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Monday, 26 February 2018
Page: 1753

Kokoda Campaign

Dear Mrs Wicks

Thank you for your letter dated 5 December 2017 regarding petition number EN0362 requesting that the House of Representatives declare the 22nd of January each year a national day in recognition of the final victory of the Kokoda campaign on 22 January 1943.

The Australian Government has a range of initiatives for commemoration of the sacrifice and contribution of Australians in war. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the battle of the Kokoda campaign. From July 1942 to early 1943, Australian troops in the Owen Stanley Range and on the beaches of northern Papua saw some of the most desperate and vicious fighting encountered in the Second World War. The Australian War Memorial commemorated these significant events, and the lives of those lost, with Last Post Ceremonies, a ceremony commemorating the 641 Australians who lost their lives in the Kokoda campaign and special Kokoda exhibitions.

Anzac Day goes beyond the anniversary of the landing in Gallipoli in 2015. It is the day on which we remember all Australians who served and died in war and on operational service past and present. On Remembrance Day, the 11th of November each year, Australian's observe one minute's silence in memory of those who died or suffered in all wars and armed conflicts.

The Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway in Sydney, NSW, is a living memorial and a principal site of commemoration honouring all those who fought for Australia during World War II. Kokoda Day is commemorated annually on 3 November by a flag raising ceremony at the Memorial.

National days may be observed without a proclamation or intervention by the Commonwealth Government and there is nothing to prevent an organisation or individual promoting and seeking support within the community for a national day or week. A number of days throughout the year have gained community acceptance as the dates on which particular events are celebrated or commemorated. These events generally evolve without government involvement where there is a groundswell of support in the wider community.

Thank you for bringing this petition to my attention. I appreciate the important work of the Standing Committee on Petitions in putting community concerns before the Parliament.

Yours sincerely

from the Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister, Senator McGrath