Commemoration Service to mark the 80th Anniversary of The Battle of the Coral Sea
Representing the Prime Minister, the Honourable Trevor Evans MP, Consul-Generals, Military representatives, Australian American Association, President Mr Mike Harris, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
I begin by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the lands around Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera people, and extend respectful greetings to Elders, past, present, and emerging.
Both Graham and I are honoured to have been invited to attend this most significant event in these beautiful peaceful surroundings to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea. Eighty years and now up to four generations beyond this momentous struggle, have not dimmed the collective memory nor reduced the significance of this unique battle back in the dark days of 1942 when Australia was fighting for its very survival.
The battle was indeed unique in particular because of the role of Naval air power. As so many of you know, it was the first action at sea where aircraft carriers led the engagement and the first battle where the opposing fleets neither sighted, nor even fired directly at each other. It was, in effect, a battle for Naval air supremacy. A strategic turning point in The Pacific War, it ultimately denied the Japanese Empire the opportunity to take Port Moresby and use that as a staging point for an invasion of mainland Australia.
In many ways, the Battle of the Coral Sea created a renewed sense of purpose and resolve that motivated our army in the ensuing Kokoda Campaign, and then the air force and army in the victory at Milne Bay almost exactly four months later.
For its part, the US Navy quickly regrouped and the Battle of Midway only a month after Coral Sea was a significant and resounding victory.
And while the firsthand memories have disappeared in the mists of time, the significance of this battle will not forgotten – it will never be forgotten – and the reason it still resonates is because it further cemented a friendship between Australia and the United States of America – a friendship that has only strengthened and deepened in the eighty years since the Battle of the Coral Sea.