Tuesday 9 April 2019

Hansard of the Legislative Council
  Frank MacDonald Memorial Prize

Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, the Frank MacDonald Memorial Prize has been spoken about here before.  The member for Windermere gave a terrific speech about it last year, which I will quote from, and he talked about how memorable and wonderful the trip was.

Other members have been on the trip, too.  I know the member for Montgomery thoroughly enjoyed her trip.  The members for Derwent and Murchison have taken the trip as well.  All have been afforded that wonderful opportunity.  I was speaking with another former member, Rene Hidding, the other day about the trip and he said that it is a trip of a lifetime to experience this Frank MacDonald Memorial Prize trip. 

It is an essay-based competition for grade 9 students which helps promote and preserve the meaning of the Anzac spirit in the Tasmanian community.  The six prize winners have the opportunity to study Australia's participation in the Great War by taking a study tour to visit significant World War I landmarks and battlefields on the Western Front in Europe.

Students also undertake to do research into individual soldiers who fought in World War I as part of the preparation for their trip to Belgium and France.  We all were compelled to do that research.  My chap is here, Michael - Mick - Manion, who went from Beaconsfield to the battlefield and unfortunately was killed in 1916.

The Frank MacDonald Memorial Prize was first awarded in 2004 and is an initiative of the Tasmanian Government supported by RSL Tasmania.  The prize is jointly administered by the Department of Education and Communities, Sport and Recreation Tasmania in the Department of Premier and Cabinet.  The prize recognised World War I veteran Frank MacDonald, who was born in Ulverstone in 1896.  Interestingly, our RSL representative Libby Perkins, who knew Frank MacDonald, is from Ulverstone as well and will be coming along on the trip.

Frank MacDonald died in August 2003 at the age of 107.  I think there was something in the genes of that man.  He was the last of the 40th Infantry Battalion, Australian Imperial Force, the only all-Tasmanian battalion raised during World War I. 

Frank MacDonald was responsible for repairing signal lines between headquarters and trenches.  He received a military medal for working courageously under heavy fire.  He also served in World War II and received the Legion of Honour in 1998.

I am highlighting this because on Saturday we had the most fantastic day with the people from the tour in Parliament House; we used one of the committee rooms to have our gathering and then I showed them through the museum.  We also had a tour through the House of Assembly and the Legislative Council in between our various sessions.  From the way the eyes of the young people lit up, I would not be at all surprised if we see some of them here as staff or parliamentarians in the future.  They were very interested - such is the high calibre of these students.


If you do not mind, I will name the team itself - not in any particular order, but I notice that I am mentioned last:  Kristy Broomhall, who is from the Premier's office and has done a fabulous job with the detail, it has been excellent; Griffin McLaughlin from the Tarremah Steiner School; Jenna Stacey, a student from Mount Carmel College; Lydia Kelly from St Patrick's College; Mia Cooper from Ogilvie High School; Nell Hentschel from Bayview Secondary College; and William Scott from Scotch Oakburn College.  Two teachers go on the trip every year; this year we have Ivor Leonard from the Hutchins School and Mel Burnett from the Bayview Secondary College.

As mentioned, Libby Perkins is the RSL representative, and then there is a chap who is there to make up the numbers.  I am looking forward very much to meeting Dr John Greenacre, who will be our tour guide.  Everybody speaks affectionately of him and all are very appreciative of his knowledge and how he imparts that to the team.

Mr Dean - He is a great person.

Mr FINCH - Yes, you mentioned that in your speech.  You also mentioned the opportunity to go to Anglesea Barracks, the Soldiers Walk on the Domain and the War Memorial in Canberra, where we were met by Brendon Nelson, who also gave a speech.  We also went to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is significant to me.  Paul Keating made a significant speech at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier 26 years ago; it is well worth reading and I trust our young people will look into the details of that speech.  I must also mention Judy Travis, from the Education department, who has coordinated these tours for many years; she is a wonderful lady.  The member for Windermere also mentioned the Sir John Monash Centre.  Was it open when you were there?

Mr Dean - Yes, and we went to it.

Mr FINCH - I look forward to going there because he is a famous Australian.  Peter FitzSimons has written a wonderful book called Monash's Masterpiece: The Battle of Le Hamel and the 93 Minutes that Changed the World.  Sir John Monash was at the Battle of Le Hamel, and because he was an engineer, he organised it down to the very minute - or so he thought.  He thought the way he had it structured that battle would take 90 minutes.  It took 93 minutes, so it was a wonderful achievement and the centre recognises one of the great commanders of the World War I. 

I look forward to visiting those places I have spoken about over many years, like the Menin Gate, Passchendaele, Fromelles, Villers-Bretonneux, Amiens, Pozières and the Somme, which we will visit on Anzac Day; all components of the Western Front.  I will leave you with a quote from the member for Windermere's contribution last year.  He said -

The sacrifices made and the heroics and tragedies of our Diggers are the reasons we can never forget them.  That is why Anzac Day can never cease and why the RSL must continue to be supported by our governments - and they are very strong reasons for the Frank MacDonald Memorial Prize to continue in the long term.