The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Peter Costello

Peter Costello

Treasurer

11 March 1996 - 3 December 2007

Transcript of 25/04/2003

TRANSCRIPT

THE HON PETER COSTELLO MP
Treasurer

ABC with Jane Hutcheon (Pre-recorded)

Gallipoli

25 April 2003
9.15am

 

SUBJECTS: Anzac Day

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, is this your first time to Gallipoli?

TREASURER:

Yes.

JOURNALIST:

And tell me about how it felt.

TREASURER:

Well, obviously it is a very moving occasion to sit by Anzac Cove as the light comes up and to think of what it might have been like on 25 April 1915, as the land comes into view and the silhouette rises, to think about what would have been going through the minds of the troops as they came ashore. To look at the terrain, and to see the enormous odds which they faced, but clung on with a great deal of valour over eight months and founded a legend, which is one of the most powerful strands of Australian thought and history today.

JOURNALIST:

Does the legend mean more to you now that you have been here?

TREASURER:

To see where the legend was born and to stand on the Cove which gave birth to the legend, it is obviously a magnificent privilege. But the legend is, that here a nation on the battlefield became aware of itself. It had consciousness that something was happening. It was distinct, it was different to anything else. It was Australian. And that is what gave it meaning.

JOURNALIST:

Does it have any more poignancy knowing that there is a war, or rather we are just finishing a war, basically on the doorstep of this country?

TREASURER:

Of course. Anzac occurred when young Australians came half way round the world to take part in an international operation. Australian troops are halfway around the world in Iraq as part of an international organisation. They are the successors to the Anzac legend. And the thing is that they are still at it, they are still part of the international effort to deal with the world's troubles. And we should remember that Australian troops still serve in action today, as they have since 1915.

JOURNALIST:

One of the old World War II veterans I spoke to the other day looked at Anzac Cove for the first time and said, this is why war is absolutely pointless. I mean, does the Anzac story, does the legend, have an anti war message necessarily?

TREASURER:

Well, war is awful. War is destruction and waste. And 8,000 people died on Gallipoli. Eight thousand. You think of the casualties in relation to military conflicts today, eight thousand Gallipoli alone - absolutely dwarfs them. The wanton destruction and the carnage just tells you how awful war is. And the campaign was probably misconceived from the very outset. And the Australians were eventually defeated here at Gallipoli. And yet it has become a powerful legend, because it told us a lot about ourselves, including courage in adversity and taking privation with the good humour and looking for the best in your mates at a time when all seems stacked against you. And in a funny kind of a way, perhaps this is only Australian, we can celebrate a defeat, as giving rise to a great victory really.

JOURNALIST:

Numbers, visitor numbers, this year were well down, probably by, just a third of the number came. What do you think turned people off? Do you think it is perhaps the last Anzac has died and perhaps the legend is going, wearing a bit thin?

TREASURER:

Oh, no. The press carried a lot of stories about their security, and that was the reason why a lot of people would have been worried about coming. I do not think it has anything to do with the last Anzacs dying. I think that this will get stronger and stronger. The funny thing about the Anzacs is, we came to think Anzacs were old people. They were the people that we saw. In fact, Anzacs are young people, and a visit here will remind you that they were young people. And I think the young will nourish this ceremony, year after year, and I think it will become a big ceremony.

JOURNALIST:

Thank you very much.

TREASURER:

Thanks very much, Jane.