On the eve of the commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Pozières, Dan Tehan, Australian Minister for Veterans' Affairs, spoke to interviewer Isabelle de Wazières about what the centenary means to him.
- What does the centenary mean to you?
This commemoration pays homage to the sacrifice that our soldiers paid 100 years ago, when they fought in the name of freedom. The freedom of not just Australia, but also France.
- Did members of your own family fight here?
No, but as minister for Veterans' affairs, this legacy has been passed on to me and I feel, as an Australian, connected to this history. These men showed such bravery, courage and determination in the defence of our nation.
- Do you have a message for the inhabitants of the Somme?
Firstly, I would like to thank them for the warm welcome they provide to visitors from Australia and for the way in which they remember our men who died here, on their land. This is important to them and that shows. In 2016, just as 100 years ago, Australia stands alongside France, and for the next 100 years to come, we will continue to defend our common values for liberty and peace.
- Have you visited the Remembrance Trail?
I don't have the time this visit, but I came two years ago and visited many of the sites of remembrance. I learnt much about the work carried out by the French. An extraordinary accomplishment, and one which I greatly appreciate.