Members Statement: &oth Anniversary of Kokoda

Written on the 14 August 2012

Wednesday, 8 August, marked the 70th anniversary of the Kokoda campaign. I was privileged to have represented the Premier and the Minister for Veterans' Affairs at a Kokoda day memorial service at the Shrine of Remembrance, which was also attended by Her Excellency the Governor-General, a number of veterans from the 39th Australian Infantry Battalion, my parliamentary colleagues Edward O'Donohue, a member for Eastern Victoria Region, and James Merlino, the member for Monbulk in the Assembly, the federal member for Kooyong, Josh Frydenberg, and many members and friends of the 39th Australian Infantry Battalion.


I refer to the order of last week's service in relation to the background of the 39th Infantry Battalion, which states:
By order of the military board, the 39th Australian Infantry Battalion was raised in October 1941, from volunteers serving in the 3rd military district, for special tropical service. Its ranks were mainly filled by 18 and 19-year-olds and officered at senior level by World War I veterans who were later replaced by 2nd AIF officers. After two months training at Darley they moved out on Boxing Day. On 1 January 1942 they arrived in Port Moresby to defend against an invasion from the sea.


The Kokoda Track is well known to many Australians, many of whom -- indeed I believe some within this chamber -- have walked it, which would have been an extraordinary experience for those who have undertaken that extremely demanding and challenging task.


Although the Kokoda campaign happened 70 years ago, many believe the battles in the rugged terrain of Papua New Guinea were some of the most significant battles fought by Australians during the Second World War. The courage of those brave Australians who were part of the 39th battalion and who fought alongside their brave Papuan allies to defend both Papua New Guinea and Australian territory should never be forgotten.

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