Page 1922 - Week 06 - Thursday, 5 May 2005

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Motion (by Mr Corbell) proposed:

That the Assembly do now adjourn.

VE Day

MR SMYTH (Brindabella—Leader of the Opposition) (5.56): I wish to bring to the attention of members that Sunday is VE Day, Victory in Europe Day, and that there will be celebrations all over the world. Just to correct the record: in the last sitting Ms Porter asked the following question:

Is the Chief Minister aware of any plans for the commemoration of the end of the Second World War?

Mr Stanhope, as is his wont, then proceeded to rewrite history. I would like to quote the paragraph from Hansard. It goes like this:

This major celebration or commemoration will occur over three days, over a weekend, from Friday 14 to Monday 16 May, being the time, of course, of the dropping of the second bomb on Tokyo, which heralded the surrender of Japan the next day and essentially signalled the end of the war in the Pacific

Of course, the war against Japan actually finished on 14 August, not 16 May, as the Chief Minister would contend. Indeed, a nuclear weapon was never dropped on Tokyo. I am not sure where the Chief Minister gets his information from, but if he is serious about commemorating the war efforts of those that served in World War II he needs at least to get his facts straight.

A few of the facts for the Chief Minister are: a number of Australians did serve in the European theatre of conflict. We sent three army divisions, the 6th, the 7th and the 9th divisions, all of which distinguished themselves in North Africa. The 6th, of course, fought in the Greek and Crete campaign. The 7th, which is often not remembered and is notably known as the silent 7th, served in Syria and Lebanon. The 9th division were the heroes of Tobruk.

Numerous navy vessels participated and served well. In the air force, we had numerous Australian squadrons in coastal command and in bomber command. Australians served, therefore, in North Africa, Greece and Crete, and Syria and Lebanon. It is interesting that a number of Australian destroyers and a couple of the Australian squadrons actually served on the Russian front, a fact not well known.

Many were taken POW; several ended up in concentration camps. One of our locals, Joe Gullett, who died some years, ago was actually second in command of a British battalion on D Day. So Australians did distinguish themselves with great honour in Europe, as they did in the Pacific theatre of operation.

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