26 April 2010
BY KEITH JACKSON
MORE THAN 100 people have already registered for a special event at Parliament House in Canberra to honour those who died in the fall of Rabaul and in the sinking of the Montevideo Maru.
The Australian Parliament is set to debate an historic motion on Rabaul and the Montevideo Maru on Monday 21 June.
Former servicemen, relatives and friends are invited to Canberra to witness the debate and attend a function hosted by Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Minister Alan Griffin and Environment Minister and Patron of the Rabaul and Montevideo Maru Society, Peter Garrett.
The resolution will cover:
the gratitude of the Australian nation to the military personnel and civilians in Rabaul and the New Guinea Islands for their services in the defence of Australia during World War II
regret and sorrow for the sacrifices that were made in the defence of Rabaul and the New Guinea Islands after the invasion of 23 January 1942 and in the subsequent sinking of the Montevideo Maru on 1 July 1942
condolences to the relatives of the people who died in this conflict
thanks to the relatives for their forbearance and efforts in ensuring that the nation remembers the sacrifices made.
The list of speakers includes Catherine King (ALP Vic), Louise Markus (Lib NSW), Bruce Scott (Nat Qld), John Murphy (ALP NSW), Steven Ciobo (Lib Qld) and Bob Katter (Ind Qld).
A similar motion is expected be moved in the Senate by Senator Anne McEwen (ALP SA).
This is a wonderful opportunity for the Australian Parliament to expatiate a lot of the grief and misunderstanding built up over the years since the men of the Montevideo Maru were lost in what was a terrible disaster for Australia.
It will be a significant action by our Parliament: one that the few remaining men of Lark Force and the relatives of those who died, many of them now in their eighties and nineties, have been waiting for and will treasure.
They will travel to Canberra to witness it and be part of it. They will sit in the gallery and know the sacrifice is honoured by the Parliament of their nation.”
In another development, the Director of the Australian War Memorial, Maj Gen (ret) Steve Gower has advised the Society that his Council has given in-principle approval for a Rabaul and Montevideo Maru monument to be constructed in the grounds of the Australian War Memorial.