Friday, 20 March 2020
Hon. Larry Anthony
Director, SAS Group
The Spanish flu virus 100 years ago was the last great pandemic until COVID-19 appeared on the global stage in late 2019, early 2020.
It spread rapidly across Europe and later the world by returning troops from the trenches of the Great War, WWI. It had a devastating impact both economically and through huge loss of life, but the world survived and got through the next century.
Today we are faced with a similar crisis, although the difference this time is that we are better informed and better prepared, notwithstanding the irrational panic that is unfolding in supermarkets and equity markets. Like the pandemic of the 1920s, we will as a global community, get through COVID-19.
100 years ago, the former Federal Country Party, now National Party, was formed in Melbourne which was then the location of the Australian Parliament. My grandfather HL Anthony was one of those troops who returned from the Great War. Thankfully he survived Gallipoli and the Spanish flu pandemic. He later went on to become a Member of Parliament in 1937, followed by my father in 1957 and myself in 1996 for the Nationals.
Last weekend in Melbourne, the National Party celebrated its 100 years of existence. Many MPs, Senators, Party officials, friends and supporters gathered in the Chamber of the Victorian Parliament to participate in a re-enactment of the inaugural speech by the first Leader of the Party. Later that evening, 300 people gathered to celebrate the occasion and hear stories from our past. Interestingly, the Nationals are the second oldest political Party in the country, having served 60 years of the last 100 in Coalition Government.
I was very humbled to be part of the celebration, wearing my hat as the President of the National Party. It was also poignant as my family is the only third generation family that has served in the Federal Parliament from the same seat and who have been Ministers of the Crown.
I was delighted that my fellow SAS Group Directors Malcolm Cole and Peter Costantini and their respective wives could join me on this historic occasion.
And finally, just like how Australia got through WWI and the Spanish flu, I have every confidence that we, as a nation, will pull through the current pandemic with the incredible support of our health workers, leaders and – I pray – sensible public.