Tuesday 11 August 2020
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Australian PM - 1 month ago

Statement On Indulgence - First moon landing 50th anniversary

Mr Morrison: (Cook—Prime Minister and Minister for the Public Service) (14:00): I start by welcoming to the chamber today Ambassador Culvahouse and the many others who have joined us today representing the United States. Today I rise to recognise the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 s historic trip to the moon and to honour all who made it possible, including the many Australians who were part of that amazing achievement. Fifty years ago it was said that the heavens became part of man s world, and for one priceless moment all the people of this world were truly one. The achievement of that day lives through the ages. We should never cease to marvel at that achievement nor take it for granted, nor the nation that enabled us to achieve it. The Apollo missions were missions of unparalleled risk and opportunity. As President Kennedy said at Rice University in 1962—and we could almost all say it together— We choose to go to the moon not because it is easy but because it is hard. That goal will serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills. And that s indeed what it did, inspiring generations to follow. The decision to send a person to the moon ultimately involved the efforts and toil of 400,000 men and women for almost a decade. I m sure many members and many outside of this place have taken the opportunity to watch many of the documentaries that have been airing and to marvel again at the tremendous stories. I took that opportunity with my kids over the weekend. These 400,000 men and women included 700 Australians. Every part of their effort was vital. Every challenge was interconnected with every other part of their mission. Nothing could be left undone, because the consequences of failure were too great. All who worked on the Apollo program carried the burden of Apollo 1, when astronauts Virgil Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee were incinerated in the command module. Australia s involvement in the Apollo missions was through our tracking facilities. NASA located these stations around the world at equidistant points in California, Spain and Australia. Communications to the Apollo missions depended on these tracking stations. As The Canberra Times wrote of the stations at Honeysuckle and Tidbinbilla, the road to the moon leads through Tharwa , and it did. The tracking stations formed part of the electromagnetic umbilical cord through which information travelled 186,000 miles per second. In the words of historian and author Andrew Tink, who I understand is in the building today, Without the tracking stations, mission control would have been deaf, dumb and blind to astronauts on the moon, and vice versa. Under the leadership of Tom Reid, who as many Canberrans would know is the late husband of former senator Margaret Reid, Honeysuckle, Tidbinbilla and Parkes all played their part in a remarkable moment for humanity. It is a remarkable thing that we rarely say that Americans went to the moon, though that is a statement of obvious fact. Rather, to us it wasn t just Americans who went to the it was humankind that went to the moon. That s because the United States, through its actions, embodied the best of us and all of us. Buzz Aldrin said, The Apollo missions stand as a symbol of the insatiable curiosity of all mankind to explore the unknown. They remind us that through united, concerted and unrelenting effort we can meet the challenges of our age: cancer, disease, water, climate, race—all things that challenge us. Fifty years ago our Prime Minister, along with others, was asked to write a message which was inscribed on a disc that was left on the moon s surface. John Gorton wrote: This is a dramatic fulfilment of man s urge to go always a little further . May the high courage and the technical genius which made this achievement possible be so used in the future that mankind will live in a universe in which peace, self-expression and the chance of dangerous adventure are available to all. Fifty years on, that is the lesson of Apollo 11, and the world will forever be grateful.

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