Address presented by
The Hon. MARGARET KEECH MP
MEMBER FOR ALBERT
A COMMEMORATION OF THE 60TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE OUTBREAK
OF THE KOREAN WAR AND TO ANNOUNCE THE JOINT
PARTICIPATION OF THE GOVERNMENTS OF QUEENSLAND AND THE
REPUBLIC OF KOREA IN THE PROPOSED QUEENSLAND KOREAN
WAR MEMORIAL, CASCADE GARDENS, GOLD COAST
Saturday, July 10, 2010.
Albert Community Hall, Broadbeach, Gold Coast.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’m delighted to be here today representing Premier Anna Bligh, who regrets her absence and sends her best wishes for the successful completion of a fitting Memorial to commemorate Australia’s Korean War Veterans.
On June 25, 1950, North Korean forces invaded South Korea. Eventually they were pushed back and, after years of stalemate, an armistice separating them was signed on July 27, 1953.
In the course of those three years, Australia sent 17,164 troops to the Korean Peninsula; 339 were killed and 1,216 injured Their bravery and their suffering went largely unrecognised upon their return, yet they had helped lay the foundations for what was the transformation of South Korea from a poor and devastated third world country to an economic powerhouse.
In contrast, North Korea remains an economic backwater.
All Australians should be proud of our Korean veterans, if only for the enormous economic advantages this country – and Queensland not least of all – has gained from our massive trade with the south.
In the year to June 30, 2009, Queensland sold goods worth $6.4 billion to South Korea, which was a little less than our exports to India and considerably more than sales to China.
Apart from merchandise exports, more than 5,100 South Korean students are studying in Queensland. This year we are looking forward to welcome some 300,000 South Korean tourists to enjoy holidays in this state.
There’s also a small but important community of Queenslanders of South Korean birth who are represented here today and who have thrown their wholehearted support behind the proposed Queensland Korean War Memorial at Cascade Gardens.
More than 8,000 people from South Korea live on the Gold Coast plus another 23,000 throughout Queensland and more than 4,700 others are here on working holiday visas
They contribute to our multicultural society in many ways – through their church communities and cultural and business associations they deepen our appreciation of South Korean language, culture and traditions.
Since 1989, the Gold Coast Korean churches and communities have hosted an annual commemoration of the outbreak of the Korean War and the role played by Australian defence personnel.
It’s from those functions, attended by Australian veterans, the South Korean community and broader groups, that the inspiration for a War Memorial on the Gold Coast originated.
Last year the Australian Korean War Memorial Queensland was incorporated, with representation from veterans groups, from the South Korean community and from the Gold Coast City Council.
State and Federal governments have thrown their support behind the project and so has the government of the Republic of Korea.
The Gold Coast City Council offered a site for the memorial within Cascade Gardens at Broadbeach which has been accepted and it’s hoped construction will begin next year.
With goodwill on all sides I would hope that financial arrangements can be set in place and a design decided upon.
On behalf of the Premier, I can announce that in recognising this important occasion the Queensland Government is committed to financially supporting the construction of the memorial.
Our Korean War veterans, whose ranks are diminishing, have waited 60 years for this recognition of their valour and sacrifice.
They helped make possible the cordial and strong ties that have been developed between our countries over many years.
I’m honoured to lend my support to this undertaking.
I congratulate everyone concerned and in particular President Joseph Ahn and Retired Colonel Maurie Pears with the coordination and promotion of the establishment here on the Gold Coast of Queensland’s first ever memorial to recognise, in friendship with South Korea, the valiant veterans of both countries who served with great distinction 60 years ago.
Thank you very much.