PM Speech: ANZAC Bridge Sydney.
Rt Hon Helen Clark Prime Minister Speech at the Dedication Ceremony and Unveiling of Sculpture of Kiwi Soldier on ANZAC Bridge, 9.05am (Australia) 11.05am (NZ)
27 April 2008
Premier Morris Iemma, Ministers of the Government of New South Wales, Leader of the Opposition, Barry O’Farrell, Representatives of the Parliaments of New Zealand and New South Wales, Chiefs of Defence, Lieutenant General Mataparae and Air Chief Marshall Houston, Representatives of the Returned and Services League of Australia and the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association, Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
We gather here today for a very special ceremony – the dedication of the statue of a World War One New Zealand soldier on the ANZAC Bridge.
Since this bridge was renamed a decade ago, the flags of both our nations have proudly flown here.
And for the past eight years, a bronze statue of an Australian World War One soldier has graced the bridge too.
Now he is joined by his mate, symbolising the extraordinary and close friendship between New Zealand and Australia in times of war and peace.
Two days ago, we both commemorated ANZAC Day at home and around the world wherever our people gather.
April 25th is a day of remembrance and reflection for us both. So many have given their lives in the service of our countries.
But the fact that we share our remembrance day is also deeply symbolic. Our people were there together on Day One of the Gallipoli campaign ― as they had been together in South Africa, and were to go in very large numbers to France, Belgium, and Palestine in World War One, and to many other places in World War Two and subsequent deployments.
But it was from that doomed landing on the shores of Gallipoli that the ANZAC legend grew ― of strong and brave young soldiers from the uttermost ends of the earth who fought against incredible odds with great courage.
That is why their deeds and sacrifice inspire our peoples to this day.
That is also why their traumatic experience in 1915 is seen as a defining moment in the development of both our nations.
Thus this bridge bears a name which carries powerful symbolism - of remembrance, mateship, and nationhood - for New Zealand and Australia.
And that is why the New Zealand Government has been excited by this project to commission and dedicate a sculpture of one of our nation’s sons on the bridge.
This initiative gained momentum when the New South Wales branch of the RSL backed it at their 2005 annual conference.
The government of Premier Iemma was enthusiastic, and so was my government. We have embarked on this as a joint project between our governments ― in the ANZAC tradition.
We have been well served by Alan Somerville, our sculptor. Alan embodies the ANZAC tradition ― he has dual citizenship. He had already created the statue of the Australian soldier which stands here.
Creating this statue of the New Zealand soldier has been a huge project, involving many months of dedicated work and consultation by Alan Somerville.
The result is a sculpture in which we can all take enormous pride. Thank you, Alan, for what you have achieved for us all.
Today we reaffirm the bonds which exist between our countries ― and resonate strongly to this day.
The relationship we enjoy is “as close as it gets” between any two countries in the world.
Of course there’s plenty of friendly rivalry, and we do occasionally differ, but when the chips are down we know who we can count on.
Our economies are deeply intertwined, we share common value systems, and there are so many family links.
I thank you, Premier Iemma, and your government and the New South Wales RSL for your support of this project symbolising the friendship between our peoples.
It is indeed a proud day for New Zealand to have a statue of one of our own grace this bridge.