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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 13248

Mr BILLSON (Dunkley) (13:56): You would know that in my time as Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence I thought that a grateful nation needed to do all it could to help the families and loved ones of those that gave the greatest sacrifice in the service of our nation know where they rested. This saw us work very hard to seek, identify the location of and recover HMAS Sydney (II). We had the work of Jim Burke and Operation Aussies Home, finding where those brave Vietnam veterans who fell and could not be recovered lay in that foreign country. The AE2, one of our early submarines of our nation, was found. It rests, now, off the coast of the Dardanelles. It is being properly cared for and protected. But there still is one more mystery: the mystery of whatever happened to AE1. AE1 is a submarine that was dispatched very early in the days of the First World War, sent with a combined military and naval force to capture a German naval radio station and seize the German colony centred on the island of New Britain.

A dedicated team of people—led by Peter Briggs, the retired rear admiral and chairman of Find AE1—has executed the first stage of the search for AE1 to try and find the final resting place of that vessel and the 35-man crew that included British and Australians, and a sole New Zealander. We need to find AE1. This work is underway. In the first 200 metres of depth, we know where she is not. We have to keep working. I urge people to contribute handsomely to the fundraising efforts to continue the search.