I am delighted to join you this afternoon at the 20th National TREENET Symposium, and equally delighted to join as Patron of the Avenues of Honour Project.

It’s perhaps not unsurprising for an ex-military man to accept a role that seeks to create a living memory for the Australians who paid the supreme sacrifice in serving this nation.

Having toured through the western front on a couple occasions, and particularly the Australian remembrance trail, I continue to marvel at the manner in which our serviceman are remembered by the local population more than 100 years after the end of the war.

Whether in a school at Dernancourt, the nightly service at Menin gate or at one of the many cemeteries, the French and Belgian communities remain steadfast in their appreciation of the efforts of Australian servicemen.

The next major project of the Avenues of Honour will be to create a Centennial Anzac Memorial Avenue along a public road in the Somme, to commemorate Australians who died on this front in France during WW1.  What could be better than a living avenue of majestic trees to replicate what was there at the time of the start of the twentieth century.  This will complement the wonderful avenues already established in Australia.

The avenue will represent a significant affirmation of the historic alliance between France and Australia after WW1 and will commemorate the centennial of the end of the conflict.

I commend Glenn and David on this next venture to set up an Avenue of Honour across on the Western Front,  to honour the service, suffering and sacrifice of the 46,000 Australian’s still lying in French soil.  It is vital that future generations of Australians have an opportunity to remember our fallen servicemen and women.  To do so in a manner which benefits the environment is an added bonus.

There is a crowd funding site that has been established to help raise funds for the French project.  I hope you can join me in supporting this important program.