Recently I had the opportunity to mark Anzac Day with former Australian prisoners-of-war at Hellfire Pass in Thailand. Enduring harrowing and unimaginable conditions, their stories are of mates, of sacrifice and resourcefulness. As prisoners and surviving against the odds, we are indebted to their spirit, their refusal to yield and the perseverance that shaped our nation into what it is today.
Our Anzacs rewrote the Australian way of life. They epitomised the qualities that define our servicemen and women, the virtues that I see displayed each and every day by our fellow Australians; courage, good humour, a will to endure. Each contributes to a shared spirit.
Then the tragic events in Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia. After the destruction, floods, fires and cyclones, came shining examples of gracious and brave actions. Men and women who showed fortitude and selflessness. They were friends, neighbours, volunteers and emergency services personnel, confronting relentless and unprecedented conditions to rebuild and renew communities.
It was inspiring to see our citizens united during the disaster recovery efforts, including members of our Defence Force who worked tirelessly by their side during clean-up operations. As Commander-in-Chief, I praise their outstanding commitment , highlighting a tradition of contribution by Defence personnel.
Our history lives on through the lives of Australians, organisations and communities, and The Last Post is a precious record, and reminder, of our toughness and our compassion.
I remember my twin brother and I visiting Dadin Sydney during the school holidays of ’71. His office was in George Street and there he worked with a couple of other guys, putting together what I think was ‘The Last Post’. I remember Dad and his mates took Craig and I up to Shoal Bay and while they were on the phones, Craig and I were out buying fresh fish being brought in along the town’s beach by the local fishermen, climbing hills, swimming, winning a Newcastle radio station’s
competition that asked listeners to name the brothers in ‘The Kinks’ and spying on the latenight army operations that were being carried
out around Nelson Bay. I know Dad continued with ‘The Last Post’ when he and Jan moved to Perth in ’74, only this time he was working from home and it seemed harder. He always seemed to be ‘waiting for cheques’ that were delivered to Box 88, Scarborough WA 6019.
Back then, from memory, ‘The Last Post’ was a simple, state focused almanac or directory for servicemen and women, returned and serving and it was supported, in the main, by small businesses – the local butcher, football clubs, dry cleaners with some bigger businesses if Dad was lucky. Raymond was an honest soldier who fought in Papua – Milne Bay, Buna, Shaggy Ridge and Balikpapan during World War Two. He was devastated by the violence and death that he saw nearly every day. His work on ‘The Last Post’ was probably the most practical way he could help those he’d fought alongside as well as the large numbers of servicemen and women generally.
When I decided to revive ‘The Last Post’ I wanted to keep the broad idea of recognition and appreciation of those who had served and sacrificed and continue to serve this country and her inhabitants. Within that, too, an ongoing appreciation of a democracy that allows us healthy debate and interaction that will, we must trust, lead to an ever improving model. A vital principle also in the re-birth of this magazine was to highlight and give thanks to those Australians, individual, corporate and sporting groups etc, that show the true spirit of this country with philanthropy, a dogma of community participation, education and public spirit and who work towards a fairer Australia with respect for all. This is the true Australia and one worth promoting.
So welcome to this, the inaugural edition of a revived ‘The Last Post’ that includes sitdown chats with Tennis Australia CEO, Steve Wood, John Bertrand AM, Ron Barassi AM, Ross Wilson, Frank Holden and a look at UN Youth Delegate on Gender Equality Catriona Standfield, comic Denise Scott and Narelle Biedermann’s ‘Tears On My Pillow’, the Australian writers look at nurses role in the Vietnam War. The summer edition coming out in December will include interviews with Myer
Family Company’s Peter Winneke, actress, psychotherapist and counsellor Anne Lambert, creative executive chef and life skill teacher, Ian Curley and others.