104th Anniversary Armenian Genocide Commemoration

24 April 2019

This speech was prerecorded and presented at the 104th Anniversary Armenian Genocide Commemoration at The Concourse in Chatswood.

Good evening and thank you for the opportunity to address you on this solemn occasion. I apologise that I could not be there in person.

For people of Armenian heritage, there are two reasons to mourn the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

The first reason is the barbaric, systematic extermination of more than 1.5 million Armenians itself.

The second reason to mourn is the refusal of those to call it genocide.

For you that’s part of coming to terms with the genocide itself.

It is essential to the healing process.

Only that word – genocide - adequately describes the historical reality of the Armenian, Greek and Assyrian Genocides between 1915 and 1923 when more than 3.5 million people are estimated to have died at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

Like my predecessor Nick Xenophon, I will take every opportunity to convince the Australian Parliament to adopt a principled stance on these crimes against humanity.

As Nick said back in 2011:

“Without that acknowledgment of genocide, there cannot be acceptance and without acceptance there cannot be healing”.

Last year during a Senate estimates hearing I asked a senior official from Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade a question.

It was about whether the government was aware of threats made by the Turkish government to ban Australians from attending the ANZAC Day centenary services over the NSW Government’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

I also asked if Australia would consider at least shifting its position to something more consistent with that of the U.S., which uses the Armenian words "Medz Yeghern" to describe the Armenian Genocide.

I want to reaffirm what Nick Xenophon said several years ago: Australia needs to choose a position.

Either we acknowledge these genocides, or we refuse to.

If we do not take a stand on this issue, we need to consider what it says about our country.

I also want to reaffirm the Centre Alliance’s support for Australia to officially recognise the Armenian Genocide.

We will continue to seek answers about Australia’s stance until we arrive at the one and only word that describes the past for what it truly was.

Thank you.

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