Standing up for Canberra

Gallipoli Garden

Yesterday I had the opportunity to commemorate Remembrance Day at three very special events. The first was with you, Madam Deputy Speaker, at the Australian War Memorial, where it was very wet but, as always, a very moving event. It was a great honour to be there as the shadow parliamentary secretary for defence. After that I had the opportunity to go to the French embassy, which each year conducts a ceremony to honour what the Australians did for the French people, particularly in Villers-Bretonneux but also through the Western Front. 

Again, that was a very moving service, and I take this opportunity to thank the French embassy and His Excellency the Ambassador for conducting that service and honouring the significant contribution that Australian soldiers made in the First World War.

In the afternoon I had the great pleasure and honour of officially opening the Gallipoli Garden, which was timed to coincide with Remembrance Day. The Gallipoli Garden is located within Fetherston Gardens in Weston, in my electorate. The Fetherston Gardens have been around since 1973 and were established on the old Canberra Institute of Technology horticulture site. The gardens have special significance for Canberra because Fetherston Gardens are named after a gentleman called Gerald Henry Fetherston MBE, or Tony Fetherston, as he is known here in Canberra. He was head of the school of horticulture, where he served from 1947 to 1979, and was a passionate gardener, a passionate educator and a great communicator. He was deeply committed to educating Canberrans and horticulturalists on the importance of the role that horticulture, decent gardens and decent open spaces play in a civilised community and in realising the vision of our garden city. It is wonderful that these gardens have been named after Tony Fetherston, acknowledging his significant contribution to Canberra.

The Gallipoli Garden was established by the Fetherston Gardens Friends committee. They first approached me with the idea for the garden more than 18 months ago, and it was a pleasure to help fund it through Labor's Anzac Centenary Local Grants program. As we know—we have all been part of the Anzac Centenary Local Grants program—it is great initiative that supports community based projects that commemorate the service and sacrifice of Australian service men and women in the First World War.

A number of Canberra organisations submitted grant applications. They were then assessed by a panel that I established, which included representatives from the War Widows' Guild, the Woden Valley RSL, the Vietnam Veterans Association and our local cadet unit, TS Canberra—I was very keen to get young Canberrans involved. A total of $125,000 in grants was announced. In Canberra, there was funding for the Canberra Glassworks, the Street Theatre, the Children's Book Council of Australia, the Woden Valley RSL, the ACT Jewish Community, Namadgi School and others.

As part of the program, $13,744 was given to the Fetherston Gardens for the establishment of the Gallipoli Garden. That was supplemented by funding from the ACT government as well as Defence Housing Australia —there is Defence housing flanking these gardens and the work DHA funded was to introduce pathways into the DHA estate to create a seamless connection with that community. Yesterday, as we know, was pretty wet, but the opening of these gardens was a wonderful event, commemorating those who served and sacrificed at Gallipoli. The gardens are going to include a Lone Pine, a Gallipoli oak, an arbutus, a Gallipoli rose and Gallipoli rosemary. I saw when I was there that they had already started to plant a hedge of rosemary and cistus. What is special about the Lone Pine plantings is that a woman called Anna donated them—one of her relatives served at Gallipoli. She wanted to plant two Lone Pines: one to honour his contribution, his service and the contributions of Australians to the First World War, and another to acknowledge the contribution of the Turks in that war— the sacrifices made by both our nations. It was wonderful to be at the event and I thank the Fetherston Gardens friends for inviting me.

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