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Tuesday, 11 August 2009
Page: 4464

Senator MINCHIN (4:01 PM) —I am pleased on behalf of the opposition to support the motion moved by Senator Faulkner and express our sincere condolences on the passing of Private Ted Kenna VC. As Senator Faulkner noted, he was our last surviving VC recipient from World War II. We pay tribute to his service to our nation in the armed forces and his long and successful life. The fact is that he died just two days after his 90th birthday. As a senator whose father is a RAAF World War II veteran who has just celebrated his 90th birthday, I am particularly pleased to be able to support this motion. I hope that my father lasts for a lot longer yet.

As we know, the Victoria Cross is awarded for extraordinary acts of valour and bravery. Ted was awarded the Victoria Cross for his gallant action in New Guinea in 1945 when he exposed himself to heavy fire, killing a Japanese machine-gun crew and facilitating the success of his company’s attack and capture of an enemy bunker. The citation for his VC is interesting. It states:

The result of Private Kenna’s magnificent bravery in the face of concentrated fire, was that the bunker was captured without further loss, and the company attack proceeded to a successful conclusion, many enemy being killed and numerous automatic weapons captured.

There is no doubt that the success of the company attack would have been seriously endangered and many casualties sustained but for Private Kenna’s magnificent courage and complete disregard for his own safety. His action was an outstanding example of the highest degree of bravery.

He was a very deserved recipient of the VC.

He had, as Senator Faulkner noted, enlisted with the AIF in 1940. He was discharged in 1946 after his period in hospital where, as it was noted, he met his wife, Marjorie, whom he married in 1947. He was always described as very modest about his VC. His daughter Marlene said that he was proud to wear it but, ‘He wears it for every solider, because he says everyone contributes to these sorts of things.’ RSL historian Keith Rossi told the Geelong Advertiser:

He was one of our favourite sons. He was a good guy, we liked him as a person. He was a humble man.

Indeed, one of the remarkable characteristics of Australia’s World War II veterans—who regrettably now are much diminished in number—is their innate humility about the remarkable service that they gave our country.

Being awarded a VC is an extraordinary honour. It is very sad to lose the last, but it is great to have this opportunity to pay great tribute to Ted Kenna for his contribution to our nation. We offer our sincere condolences to his wife of 62 years, Marjorie, and their children and their families upon his passing.