Federal Politics


They flocked to remember the fallen

Record crowds have turned out to commemorate Anzac Day at dawn services around Australia.

In Canberra, a best-ever crowd of some 35,000 attended the service at the Australian War Memorial, where from midnight, the names of iconic Australian battlefields were projected onto the front of the building, along with images of Australians at war.

In Melbourne, about 40,000 people attended a solemn service at Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance, while a record crowd of up to 50,000 people attended the Kings Park State War Memorial dawn service in Perth.

An estimated crowd of more than 15,000 filled Sydney's Martin Place in the early hours of the day, taking up every spare inch around the Cenotaph.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard spent Anzac Day in Townsville, attending the dawn service and parade. Ms Gillard said she was encouraged by the growing crowds attending services, especially the engagement of young people.


''The thing that I always look for is the number of children and there are just more and more and more, and sometimes when you get into conversations, why did you come, parents very freely admit 'I got dragged here by my young son or daughter,' '' she told ABC TV.

''It's actually the children who are driving the next level of engagement and I think that that means that for all of time, we will commemorate Anzac Day.''

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott attended the dawn service in Melbourne, before travelling to Canberra to the Australian War Memorial.

In a statement he described Anzac Day as ''the most sacred day in our national life'' and  encouraged all Australians to join in the commemorations.

''Almost a century has passed since the first Anzacs landed on the shores of Gallipoli. The courage and love of country of those young men helped make us a nation,'' he said.

Greens leader Christine Milne paid special tribute to the 48 Australian peacekeepers who had lost their lives since 1947.

''Today as we reflect on all the people who lost their lives or whose life experiences have been impacted by war, we should also remember those who died upholding peace,'' she said in a statement.

Governor-General Quentin Bryce, who attended services in Papua New Guinea, urged all Australians to reflect on the carers for those injured and killed in war, and their families sharing the pain.

With AAP, Lisa Davies

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