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Hill Lauds Commitment As 13,000 Attend Anzac Service At Gallipoli

This is the text of a doorstop interview held by the Minister for Defence, Senator Robert Hill, at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli.

Interview with Senator Robert Hill at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli.

JOURNALIST:

Senator Hill, the Government puts out a travel warning and 12,000 – 13,000 Australians and New Zealanders turn up, what’s your response to that?

SENATOR ROBERT HILL:

Well I think Australians want to commemorate ANZAC and they accept the risk. We have a responsibility to advise them of the risk and although there was no intelligence particularly directed against the Gallipoli peninsula, there have been terrorist attacks within Turkey and that’s why the officials give the advice that they give. But notwithstanding that advice, individuals make up their own minds and this service is very important to Australians. And they dearly wanted to come and they clearly stood up here today to send that message. A message of remembrance and I would think a message of commitment to the ANZAC spirit and all it stands for.

JOURNALIST:

Were you surprised by the number?

SENATOR HILL:

No I wasn’t really. I think that the numbers generally, not only here at Gallipoli but across the world, have been growing in recent years. I think it’s almost a resurgence of national spirit I would say. And I think it’s a wonderful thing to see. It’s always great to see so many young people – I had a chance to talk to some in the crowd before the service, it was still dark, and you could tell it was very important for them to be here today.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think it’s a bit of a mixed signal though? The Government’s telling people they should not come and yet the Minister for Defence is here?

SENATOR HILL:

No I think there are two signals actually. I don’t think they are mixed. The signal is that we live in a dangerous world and we have to advise Australians of the risk as we see it. The second message is that this commemoration is a very important thing to Australians. It’s part of our identity. It sets values that are important to us and that we are prepared to commit ourselves to, as this generation remembering the sacrifices of past generations. So I don’t think it’s a mixed message, I think both are necessary messages and they’re not inconsistent.

JOURNALIST:

So you’re please to see so many Australians do what you’ve done and ignore the travel advice?

SENATOR HILL:

No, I’m pleased to see so many Australians that are prepared to come out and commemorate those who made sacrifices in order that they might, the new generations might live better lives. And I’m please to see the commitment that they make, as they stand up at commemoration services all over the world – a commitment to helping to contribute to a better society.

JOURNALIST:

Senator, people I’ve spoken to have just said, well they come because of the travel warning – an act of defiance. You know, like we’re not going to be put down by terrorism.

SENATOR HILL:

Well, I think, I think there is an element of that, but what I’m saying is that I think that that attitude is held by not only those who’ve come to Gallipoli but those who attend commemoration services today all over the world. And it is important that the terrorists who aim to undermine our confidence, to undermine our way of life, are not successful. It’s important therefore that Australians do stand up on occasions like this – but I’m not saying that it’s any more important to do it here than it is to do it within Australia or anywhere else.

JOURNALIST:

The Danish Minister for Defence has resigned after criticisms surrounding defence intelligence reports and public pronouncements by the Government before the war in Iraq. I don’t suppose that’s given you any thought about your own position?

SENATOR HILL:

No, no. Okay? Thanks very much.

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