Mr BROADBENT (McMillan) (21:15): I identify with the member’s words and I congratulate him on his address.
Last Sunday was a beautiful morning in Gippsland. It was as if the weather had been organised for the event. It was just perfect last Sunday morning when I gathered with the people of Darnum and district as they proudly unveiled a new place or remembrance that it took them 12 months to put together and complete. Funded with a federal government grant, this project was driven by the will of the community and is testament to the strength and pride that abides in this beautiful place in the forecourt of the Darnum Hall.
For many years the war memorial was situated beside the Princes Highway, running alongside the hamlet of Darnum. Many ceremonies have been interrupted in the past by the noise and the danger of the proximity of traffic. The highway was then duplicated, and the memorial stayed in the same place. The Bonlac overpass then overshadowed the memorial—as well as the new Bonlac milk factory. When federal government funding became available, the community decided to move the local monument to a more tranquil location. They mobilised and they rallied to the call together.
The President of the Darnum and District Progress Association, Mr Mark Sage, noted the dedication and community spirit that was obvious as this project gradually gathered momentum. He particularly congratulated Mrs Irene Broadbent—she is no relation of mine but I would gladly claim her as a sister tomorrow—for her unwavering dedication to this project. Irene has spent many hours coordinating and organising the different facets of the project and, with the support of the community and local business, she has created an area to be most proud of.
There is a great sense of community in Darnum. It was supported by Bendigo Bank and others who gave most generously with their time. We gathered with the local state member, Mr Gary Blackwood, who attended and spoke beautifully of a legacy honoured and, along with Baw Baw Mayor, Councillor Debbie Brown, praised the community for their will and determination to get the job done.
No event like this is complete without the local CFA, and after the laying of the wreaths and the singing of the national anthem by the Darnum Primary School—which I have to say was magnificent—the morning tea/lunch was something to behold. Can you imagine: homemade apple crumble by Irene Broadbent, which is world renowned apple crumble; jelly slice, to die for; and homemade sausage rolls which I had to compete with the children of the Darnum Primary school for—to get a bit of sausage roll and sauce.
As I stood at the new memorial, I could not help thinking of the generations that had gone before, who had sons that never returned home from that horrific theatre of war to Nilma, Darnum or the Warragul district. I also spoke of the pain and grief that still remains today, 100 years on. We are only talking three generations away.
Tomorrow, Remembrance Day will be observed at this new memorial. It will be a solemn occasion and, as those same local residents stand there as part of the Baw Baw community 100 years on, there will be empty chairs and spaces that should have been filled by people we actually knew who died serving this great country. A number of times I have spoken about these issues. In all of my country areas it has been really sad to know that the cream of our young men went away at that time, never to return to their football teams, never to return to their families, never to return to their mums. I think there was something really solemn about this event, the moving of the memorial to another place after all those years. The children of the Darnum Primary School had pleaded with the RSL—we had the local Warragul RSL there—to move the memorial.
Finally funding was made available by the federal government to do what should have been done years ago. I cannot help but congratulate the whole team, but especially Irene Broadbent for driving everybody bonkers through this whole exercise to make sure she got the job done. And she did. She got the job done. And it is not only a pleasant place in a tranquil surrounding; it is a place where many ceremonies will be held in the years to come. I congratulate the committee, the whole of the Darnum community—especially Bendigo Bank for their support—and all who were part of the occasion.