This time last year, I rose at dawn to light a candle. Standing on my balcony in Darwin, on Larrakia country, I paused to remember those who fought for our country. I joined the millions across Australia who did the same: neighbours standing at the end of driveways, on front steps or balconies, some playing the last post, others standing in silence, to remember. While we had to be physically distant, we were united in each other’s thoughts.
This year, as Australians get closer to pre-COVID normality, marches and services return. I will be in Nhulunbuy, on Yolngu country, for this year’s commemorations. And like every year, I will rise at dawn to remember those who fought for our country’s freedoms.
As a Northern Territory Senator, it is something I do not take for granted. The importance of our democracy, of freedom of speech, of the right to vote and to a voice is so important to me. And ANZAC Day is a time to reflect on that.
In the NT, we have a strong military history that continues to this day.
Australia’s first military attack in World War II was on Larrakia land when Darwin was bombed on 19 February 1942. Our strategic location continues to makes us an important defence position.
That history comes with responsibility and respect for our Veterans. This week, I was pleased to see the Morrison Government announce a long-overdue Royal Commission into veteran suicides. This is something veterans and families, and Labor, have been calling for since 2019, in particular my Federal Labor colleague, former soldier and now Member for Solomon, Luke Gosling. It is a tragedy that we have seen so many deaths as a result of veterans self harming and suiciding since active service.
Labor is pleased the Morrison Government has finally agreed to do the right thing by veterans and their families.
This ANZAC Day, I will reflect on those we have lost through service, and in the days, months and years that have followed. Lest we Forget.
Malarndirri McCarthy is a Labor Senator for the Northern Territory.