The Battle for Australia 81st Anniversary Commemoration Service
Representing the Premier, Assistant Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and the Public Sector, Mr Bart Melish MP, representing the Leader of the Opposition, Member for Clayfield, Mr Tim Nicholls MP; representing the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Councillor for Marchant, Councillor Fiona Hammond; Member for Stafford, Mr Jimmy Sullivan MP; Commander of the 7th Combat Brigade, Australian Army, Brigadier Michael Say DSC; representing the Commander, Combat Support Group, RAAF Base Amberley, Wing Commander Elizabeth Beston; representing the Commanding Officer of HMAS Moreton, Lieutenant Commander Amy Brauns; President of the South-East District of the Returned and Services League of Australia, Colonel Kerry Gallagher AM, distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.
I begin by acknowledging the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we gather this morning, and extend my greatest respects to Elders past, present and emerging, and to all First Nations people who have served and continue to serve our country in the armed forces.
It is both a privilege and an honour to be here today at the 81st Anniversary of the Battle for Australia Commemoration Service.
As Australians, we feel very strongly and deeply connected to the incredible courage, resilience and sacrifice shown by countless of our Armed Forces during the many battles of the Pacific during World War II.
When Japan entered the war, Australia was immediately in danger of invasion. Following their advance down the Malayan Peninsula, then the fall of Singapore, the Japanese took more than 140,000 prisoners of war.
Among them, were approximately 15,000 Australian soldiers and nurses who were held captive under atrocious conditions. Of these, more than 7,000 would not survive the war.
It is truly difficult to imagine the intense anguish and fear they would have faced, but what no doubt encouraged them, was the fight for our homeland and the freedom we enjoy today.
Whether it was on land, sea or in the air, Australian Armed Forces bravely fought alongside our allies in a series of crucial encounters in 1942 and 1943 that would ultimately change the direction of history and secure our nation’s freedom, including The Battle of the Coral Sea, the Kokoda Track Campaign and The Battle of Milne Bay, to name but a few.
Today, we honour the incredible sacrifices that were made by so many Australians to secure the freedoms we enjoy today.
As we reflect on their life changing efforts, we connect our past with our future and engage our youth so they may understand, respect and honour those who have gone before them to ensure we continue to honour the memory of these Australians, their gallantry, and selfless sacrifice.
May their legacy live on forever in our history, our minds and our hearts.
‘Lest We Forget’.