Mr KATTER (Kennedy) (4.22 pm)—
I wish to acknowledge, on behalf of my colleague the member for New England, Helen Seizan and Ian Adams, representing the Armidale families who lost their grandfathers on the Montevideo Maru. Lex Fraser, in my electorate, was one of the commandos that were fighting in and around Rabaul and his entire command perished on the Montevideo Maru. Lex has carried almost to the point of obsession the loss of all of his men. He was not there; he was on another ship, being taken as a prisoner to Japan. He has fought hard for their widows. All of his life he has fought hard for recognition of the men that died. So I would like to comment on that today.
In concluding my few words, I note half a dozen members of my immediate family were fighting in the islands during the Second World War. One of them ended up in Changi prison. He came home but died soon afterwards—and I acknowledge all the mothers, particularly those from that period. His uncle was at Gallipoli. Seven years after his death at Gallipoli there was a letter—there is a number of letters on the file, including this one—from what was obviously his girlfriend. She was still writing in the hope that he was still alive. She said she had heard rumours that he was still alive. How many hearts were broken as such people died. Mark Turner is here today. I think his family should get special respect: three brothers were killed on the Montevideo Maru and their poor mother also lost a husband later in the war. The entire male side of the family was wiped out. I think this incident is the worst incident in warfare, including battles, that Australia ever suffered. It is very good, Minister, that we acknowledge today each of these men that died for us. Although we lost most of the battles up there, they were lost in such a way that we were able to defeat the Japanese and throw them back and defend our country from invasion. That was the very real contribution made by these people in the great losses that they suffered.