Tony Abbott says it would be disappointing if Australians who went to Europe didn’t see the new Sir John Monash Centre to learn about a Great War hero.
He announced funding for the centre in 2015 when he was prime minister and his replacement Malcolm Turnbull invited him for the opening of it in France on Tuesday.
“All credit to the French for getting it done,” Mr Abbott told reporters.
“I doubt whether we would have been able to do it so quickly in Australia given all the obstacles we put in our way of getting things built.”
Mr Abbott said he expected tens of thousands of people yearly to make the trip to Villers-Bretonneux, but he hoped even more Australians visited.
“It would be disappointing for anyone to come to Europe and stay in Britain or in Europe for any length of time and not make the pilgrimage here,” he said.
Monash was credited with inventing the tactics that helped turn the tide of the war, combining tanks, artillery, air support and infantry in new ways.
Mr Abbott said Australians remembered Gallipoli as a defeat, but needed to know about victories too.
“This was where we changed the course of world history,” he said.
“Monash is now recognised as probably the best Allied general of the Great War.”
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