BY KEITH JACKSON
SOME 350 FRIENDS of
Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Minister, Alan Griffin, will make a major Ministerial Statement on the matter and a historic private members’ motion will be debated in the evening. The same resolution will pass through the Senate.
This is the first time the Australian Parliament has formally acknowledged the sacrifices made in the 68 years since the fall of Rabaul on 24 January 1942 and the consequent sinking of the Montevideo Maru with the loss of over 1,000 lives on 1 July 1942.
The resolution will agree that the Parliament of Australia:
gratitude of the Australian nation to the service personnel and civilians in
Rabaul and the
Expresses its regret
and sorrow for the sacrifices that were made in the defence of Rabaul and the
Conveys its condolences to the relatives and loved ones of the people who died in this conflict.
Conveys its thanks to the relatives for their forbearance and efforts in ensuring that the nation remembers the sacrifices made.
A number of Lark Force veterans will be present including:
Lorna Whyte - an army nurse in
Rabaul during World War II and a POW in
Fred Kollmorgen (94) - the sole
survivor of the 2/22nd (Salvation Army) Band. Fred escaped down the
south coast of
Stan Cooper (93) - Officer with Royal
Australian Artillery Heavy
Lionel Veale (91) - 1st Independent
Company, Kavieng. Was sent to
David Harper (90) - David was
with the 1st Independent Company on
Norm Furness (88) - President of
the Lark Force Association. Norm escaped from Rabaul down the south coast of
The principal public debate on the Rabaul and Montevideo Maru matter will take the form of a Ministerial Statement in the House of Representatives by Alan Griffin, which will be responded to by Louise Markus, Shadow Minister for Veterans' Affairs.
Following the Ministerial Statement, guests will make their way to a reception hosted by Mr Griffin in the Queens Terrace Gallery.
During private members' business from about 9 pm Monday evening, the motion will be debated and resolved in recognition of the tragedy, honouring those who lost their lives and thanking their relatives.
The formal proceedings will be webcast live on the internet as they occur. Live broadcasts of Parliament can be linked to at http://webcast.aph.gov.au/livebroadcastingSCHEDULE: 3.00 pm – Guests arrive at Parliament House. 3.30 pm – Ministerial statement followed by response from Shadow Minister in House of Representatives [WEBCAST]. 4.30 pm - Reception hosted by Mr Griffin in the Queens Terrace Gallery. 9.00 pm – Private members’ motion in House of Representatives [WEBCAST]. TBA – Senate passes the resolution.
[Keith is President of the Rabaul and