Welcome to the Qantas jet base. It’s a privilege to be joined today by Minister Ronaldson.
We’re here to launch a new agreement with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs that will see Qantas support a range of events during the Centenary of ANZAC.
As we announced earlier this month, Qantas will operate a special 747 service for Australians travelling to Gallipoli for ANZAC Day.
The service will depart Sydney for Istanbul on the 21st of April and return on the 28th of April. Both flights will operate via Perth and carry the flight code QF100, as a tribute to the centenary.
QF100 is available for members of the public to book on the Qantas website and timed to link up with onward transport to Gallipoli itself.
Today we’re pleased to make a further announcement.
We have reserved 35 seats on QF100 for widows of First World War veterans, along with carers and DVA staff.
It’s an honour for Qantas to support these women on such a poignant journey. I know that our crew are looking forward to meeting them.
For Qantas, the centenary of ANZAC has a deep significance.
Our founders, Paul McGinness and Hudson Fysh, were Great War veterans. They enlisted with the Light Horse, but were deployed to Gallipoli as infantry, remaining there for seven months.
The two men did not meet until later, when they joined Australian Flying Corps in Palestine.
McGinnes became an ace pilot, credited with seven victories. Fysh was one of his gunners and later trained as a pilot himself.
For their service in the AFC, McGinness and Fysh were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
McGinness also won the Distinguished Conduct Medal, for bravery during the Sinai campaign in 1916.
Those of us at Qantas today are custodians of the memory of McGinness and Fysh.
We honour them for their courage in war, just as we honour them for their role in founding this great airline which has endured and grown for 94 years.
In 2011, Qantas acquired McGinness’ war medals, and we now work with the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne to tell his story.
The medals are here today, as well as the rifle strap that Fysh wore at Gallipoli. If you look closely, you can see that the strap was damaged by shrapnel from enemy fire.
For the QF100 service to Istanbul, we will name the aircraft that operates the flights after our two founders, in memory of their service at Gallipoli.
As ANZAC Day approaches, we think of McGinness and Fysh – but we know that Qantas has a broader role too.
Our responsibility as national carrier is to help Australia remember all those who served one hundred years ago – their courage, their character and their sacrifice.
The ties between Qantas and the Australian Defence Force remain as strong as ever. Over the past century we have served Australia in war and peace, and we have always been there for Australians in times of need.
Many of our employees have personal connections to the Defence Force, or can trace their family history back to the First World War. We’re delighted that some of them have joined us today.
John Gissing is CEO of our regional airline, QantasLink, and his grandfather, Harry Gissing, served at Gallipoli as a pharmacist. His letters home are a remarkable and moving account of what it was like to take part in the landing.
We also have Peter Strub here, from our business resilience team. Peter served with the Royal Australian Regiment in Afghanistan – and in a range of other postings between 2005 and 2015. We’re very fortunate to have his expertise and knowledge available to us.
There are many more Qantas employees with close links to the military – including, of course, a large number of pilots who came to Qantas from the Air Force.
Our strong relationship with the Defence Force is a source of great pride as we begin this new collaboration to support the Centenary of Anzac.
I’d like to thank everyone at Qantas and at DVA responsible for bringing this agreement together.
Once again, it is a great honour to play our part.
Thank you, and I’d now like to invite the Minister to speak.