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Remarks [speech] on the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Darwin, Darwin

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R emarks on th e 7 0 thanniv ersaryof th e b omb ing of Darwin, Darwin.


Prime Minister

Nineteen forty-two was the darkest year in Australia’s history.

And if that darkest year had a darkest day, it was February 19.

It was the unimaginable day.

B eginning a series of raids around Northern Australia that together marked the first time our land has been attacked in war.

In two waves, 242 J apanese planes appeared in the air over this small but strategic township.

A young sailor Harry Dale said: “ They all glistened silver in the sun, like they were painted with silver frost.”

B ut those planes brought only destruction from the bright skies.

Our distance from the hatreds of old Europe was no longer a protection.

Our peacetime complacency had become a potent setback in war.

Admittedly there had been some preparations but they were not enough.

Darwin ended the complacency.

This was the B attle for Australia.

The battle of every citiz en for our nation’s survival.

This was a fight for home and country.

For all we loved and held dear.

That would touch every family and every home.

Y et even as the bombs fell, fate was ordaining our response in the jungles of New Guinea.

So within months, the J apanese advance had been halted and the certainty of their defeat assured.

Less certain was our future friendship with J apan. B ut today that too is assured.

As the Allies surged north, Darwin remained a military post busy with troops and supplies.

And when peace came, residents returned to a broken town that took years to rebuild, only to be struck by another foe from the north, Cyclone Tracy.

The strength and resilience of Territorians is foremost in our hearts today.

Their dignity in the face of adversity will never be forgotten.

The bombing of this city was a terrible day in a terrible war.

A disaster tinged with defiance.

Like Gallipoli, it was an early set-back that spurred the nation to ultimate victory.

Territorians have always known it.

And we have made this a national commemoration so that the whole country will know it too.

This day is inscribed in the story of our nation forever.

Reminding us how precious is the freedom we enjoy.

How high a price has been paid to preserve it.

And how we must never, ever forget.

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