On 2 December 1811, Governor Macquarie selected a small green hill just outside Hobart town as the site to build new barracks for the colony’s soldiers. Named after the Marquess of Anglesey, the first buildings of Anglesea Barracks were constructed in 1814 and the complex now contains an architecturally rich combination of colonial, Georgian, Regency, Federation and later buildings. The barracks have a proud place in the history of Hobart and Tasmania. I note that my Tasmanian Senate colleague Senator Carol Brown is in the chamber tonight and I know she has had a long involvement with Anglesea Barracks and the people there.
Now the oldest continuously used barracks in Australia, Anglesea Barracks celebrated its 200th anniversary on 2 December last year. In the 200 years since its founding. Anglesea Barracks has become not only a prominent landmark in the city of Hobart but a symbol of the service of Tasmanian men and women to Australia and to their fellow Tasmanians in peacekeeping and peace-making operations right around the world. Tasmanians are proud to serve their country and Tasmania provides more recruits to the ADF per head of population than any other state.
For longer than Australia has been a nation, soldiers from the barracks have fought in wars around the globe. The gardens of the barracks contain memorials to those that have fallen in these conflicts—in colonial wars from the 19th century, the Maori wars, the Crimean War, the Boer War and modern conflicts like World War I and World War II. As well, there is the Anglesea Barracks Peacekeeping Memorial, which opened last year and recognises all those that have served in peacekeeping or peace-making operations since 1947.
The anniversary celebrations, named Anglesea 200, comprised three main events held over 2 and 3 December 2011. On the evening of 2 December, St David’s Cathedral in Hobart hosted a multi-denominational memorial service presided over by the Dean of Hobart, the Very Reverend Richard Humphrey; the Director-General Chaplaincy, Royal Australian Navy, Chaplain Stuart Hall; the Principal Chaplain, Army, Geoff Webb; and the Director-General Chaplaincy, Air Force, Chaplain Murray Earl. It provided an opportunity for all in attendance to reflect on the service and sacrifice of those that have served at the barracks. His Excellency the Governor of Tasmania, Peter Underwood, and his wife, Mrs Frances Underwood, were in attendance. I was there representing the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. We were joined by the Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley; the Deputy Chief of Army, Major General Jeffery Sengleman; the host of Anglesea 200, Major-General Greg Melick; Commander, Combat Support Group, Air Commodore Christopher ‘Noddy’ Sawade; and Colonel Michael Romalis.
The next day, Saturday, 3 December, was open day, allowing members of the public to tour the Anglesea Barracks site. The event received overwhelming support from the people of Tasmania, with around 5,000 attending. It was a very wet and miserable day, so it was great to see so many people interested in coming to the event. These Tasmanians wished to explore not only the history of the site but also the contemporary relationship that the Australian defence forces have with Hobart and Tasmania. They wanted to experience and gain a better understanding of what it is like to be a member of the Australian defence forces. Again, I was pleased to represent the Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, who was unfortunately unable to attend this special occasion. I received, in her place, a general salute from the Australian Federation Guard.
This open day showcased the best of the Defence Force. Highlights of the day included a display by Navy helicopters, an aerobatic display by the Roulettes, a performance by the Australian Defence Force band and a precision drill by the Australian Federation Guard. The Australian Federation Guard received the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce AC, with a royal salute, following which she inspected the guard. The Governor-General and Mr Bryce also met defence personnel and their families while viewing the Anglesea Barracks open day military and historic displays.
During the open day I had the opportunity to be shown a Bushmaster protected mobility vehicle. Made in Australia, the Bushmaster can carry nine infantry personnel plus an additional passenger. Fully air-conditioned, it can carry food and water for up to three days. I was pleased to hear that this high-tech military equipment, currently deployed in Afghanistan, is produced in Australia for Australians. Recently, Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Senator David Feeney announced:
This Government will ensure that all Reserve Armoured Corps will receive Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicles to provide protected transport for our troops.
This is just another way the Gillard government is helping to support and train our Defence Force personnel.
As part of the 200th anniversary of the barracks, a book detailing the history of the barracks, Barrack Hill: A History of Anglesea Barracks 1811-2011, has been produced. Published by the Department of Defence and co-authored by John Lennox and John Wadsley, the book not only explores the development of the barracks buildings through word and images but also reveals the previously untold stories of many of the occupiers of the barracks through its history. The 260-page book is hard covered and has over 180 images. Proceeds from the sale of the book are used to support the valuable work of Legacy and the Australian Army Museum Tasmania. For my parliamentary colleagues, especially those in Tasmania, copies of the book can be purchased from the Australian Army Museum Tasmania, Anglesea Barracks, Hobart.
On Saturday evening, an official reception was held to mark the anniversary and to honour those organisations and individuals involved. Once again, the Governor-General was in attendance, highlighting just what a significant place the barracks have played in our national history. I would like to use this evening to thank and congratulate a number of people for their involvement in this wonderful event. Firstly, I would like to thank Colonel Michael Romalis, who acted as my guide for the event. Colonel Romalis is the President of the Tasmanian branch of the Australian Peacekeeper and Peacemaker Veterans Association, which I have spoken about previously in a speech to the Senate. Colonel Romalis showed me around the barracks site and ensured that I was in the correct place at the correct time, and I thank him for that. His knowledge of Anglesea Barracks and of the Australian Defence Force generally was of great assistance as we toured the site, and he was able to answer with ease the questions that I asked.
The host of Anglesea 200, Major General Aziz Gregory—Greg—Melick, also needs to be thanked. Major General Melick has had a long and very distinguished history with the armed forces. In the 2011 Australia Day Honours list, he was awarded Officer of the Order of Australia in the Military Division for distinguished service as Commander 8th Brigade, Head of Reserve and Employer Support Division, and as Head of Cadet, Reserve and Employer Support Division, Australian Defence Force. His dedication to the Defence Force over a number of decades is something that I feel should be admired and recognised.
Also, Lieutenant Colonel Helen Macpherson, the Project Director of Anglesea 200, needs to be thanked for her hard work in putting together the celebrations. The fact that the celebrations were enjoyed by so many thousands of people is a credit to her hard work and dedication to the project, especially, as I said, considering the weather on the day.
A final thankyou needs to go to all of those who worked at the various displays through the day, demonstrating the equipment, directing visitors, cleaning the site afterwards and selling the books. Numerous people were involved and they all need to be thanked.
Anglesea Barracks has served as the heart of the Defence Force in Tasmania, as I said, for 200 years. The men and women who have served there have done Australia proud, both at home and around the globe. Hopefully, Anglesea Barracks will continue to serve the people of Tasmania and the Australian Defence Force proudly for the next 200 years to come.