Tim Fischer to visit Loddon

Published on 14 March 2014

Former National Party Deputy Prime Minister and Australia's first residential ambassador to the Holy See Tim Fischer will be guest speaker at Loddon Shire’s principal celebration of the centenary of Anzac Day in April next year.

A major ceremony marking the occasion will be held at the Serpentine recreation reserve and hall on Friday 24 April, starting at 10am.

Representatives from all communities across the Shire will be among the 200 people invited, along with school students from Boort, Bridgewater, East Loddon, Inglewood, Pyramid Hill, Tarnagulla and Wedderburn.

Also present will be RSL members from Inglewood-Bridgewater, Pyramid Hill, Wedderburn-Korong Vale and Mitiamo-East Loddon, plus historical society representatives from Inglewood and District, East Loddon, Pyramid Hill and Korong-Wedderburn and Army Reserve members from Bendigo.

The program is expected to include the laying of wreaths, songs from the Goldfields Choir, a flag-raising, posting of the guard and a recitation.

After the ceremony, those present will be invited to afternoon tea in the hall and the viewing of a photo exhibition.

Mr Fischer, 67, was the federal Member for Farrer from 1984 to 2001 and deputy to Prime Minister John Howard from 1996-99.

Since his departure from politics, Mr Fischer has written several books, contributed to a long list of charitable, civil and business organisations, earned a number of foreign honours and decorations and received the nation’s highest civilian accolade in 2005 when he was made a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC).

In 2008, he took up his new post at the Vatican, where he worked closely with officials on the canonisation of Australia's first Roman Catholic saint, Mary MacKillop, persuaded the Vatican supermarket to stock Australian beer and, as a long-time train enthusiast, helped reactivate the tiny papal railway.

He retired from the post in January 2012 and now lives on the family beef property at Boree Creek, south of Narrandera in New South Wales.

Chief Executive Officer John McLinden said this week Council was delighted to have Mr Fischer, a former officer in the Australian Army, as its guest at Serpentine.

“Tim Fischer is a consummate speaker who draws on his vast experience in public and private life,” Mr McLinden said.

“We’re delighted to have him with us for what is going to be a highly significant day for many residents of Loddon Shire.”

Mr McLinden said Council was planning a number of ways to celebrate the centenary. 

“We plan to unveil a memorial stone sourced from Pyramid Hill which will be fitted with a commemorative plaque,” he said.

“This stone will provide a centrepiece for the ceremony, following which it will be relocated to stand in a rosemary and poppy garden in Rudkins Reserve.

“We’re also planning an exhibition of World War I items in Serpentine Hall with a display alongside contributed by our students.”

Towns and districts across the Shire have erected war memorials and honour boards with the names of local people who fought for their country.

In the Serpentine Memorial Hall alone, the former Shire of East Loddon Roll of Honour lists 201 names.

Council has convened a working group to plan the Shire’s contribution to the centenary.

Chaired by the Mayor, Cr Gavan Holt, the group comprises representatives of the Shire’s RSL committees and historical societies as well as CEO John McLinden and Manager Community Planning Tim Jenkyn.