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Monday, 21 February 2011
Page: 619

Mrs GRIGGS (1:45 PM) —I would like to share with the House my attendance at two commemoration services over the weekend to mark the 69th anniversary of the bombing of Darwin. The 19 February 1942 bombing was the first time since European settlement began that Australia had been attacked on its own soil. Darwin was attacked by the same strike force that several months earlier attacked Pearl Harbor. The attack on 19 February was the first of 64 air raids between February 1942 and November 1943. The two attacks on 19 February killed more than 240 people and injured 400 more. Most of Darwin’s civil and military facilities were destroyed, including 20 aircraft and eight ships that were anchored in Darwin harbour.

I was privileged to attend a wreath-laying ceremony held by the Australian American Association at the USSPeary memorial in Bicentennial Park, a memorial for the two-thirds of the crew who were killed while their destroyer was anchored in Darwin harbour. Later that day, I joined a crowd of hundreds who filled the Darwin Entertainment Centre to commemorate the 69th anniversary of the bombing of Darwin. I was heartened to see a representative of the Japanese government in attendance, the first time this has happened since these commemorations began. Consul-General Dr Masahiro Kohara said to a number of people that he was extremely sorry for the Japanese bombings and the damage they had caused. US Consul General Michael Thurston also attended the events and spoke about how important it was that America honoured the many soldiers who had died: more than 90 American soldiers were killed in the bombings. (Time expired)