House debates

Monday, 4 July 2011

Private Members' Business

Centenary of the Royal Australian Navy

Debate resumed on motion by Mr Alexander:

That this House:

(1) recognises the:

(a) unique contribution made by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) to national defence since its inception 100 years ago; and

(b) naming of the Royal Australian Navy by King George V on 10 July 1911 as a significant step towards Australia's post-Federation independence from colonial rule; and

(2) notes the significant role played by the electorate of Bennelong in the development of the RAN, particularly the construction of Halverson's ships in Ryde.

7:01 pm

Photo of John AlexanderJohn Alexander (Bennelong, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

By conferring the title 'Royal' on the Australian Navy 100 years ago, King George V signalled his belief in Australia's ability and preparedness to effectively look after its own maritime defence. The bravery and resilience shown by Navy personnel since that momentous occasion has helped protect the nation and has shaped our reputation of distinction abroad. It is fitting that next week, on 10 July, we recognise and celebrate 100 years of distinguished service by the Royal Australian Navy.

For a newly federated nation with a coastline of 59,736 kilometres, maritime defence was always going to be of utmost importance. From settlement, Australia's defence was dependent upon units detached from the British Empire's Royal Navy Sydney Base. In 1859, Australia was established as a separate British naval station with a fleet to be financed and controlled by the Australian Commonwealth. At a conference on naval expansion in 1909, the Australian government and the British Admiralty agreed to establish the Australian Fleet Unit. This unit was to include at least one battlecruiser, three submarines, three second-class cruisers, six destroyers and several auxiliary support vehicles. Whilst this fleet is diminutive by today's standards, it signalled to the world that Australia as a nation had come of age and was ready to handle its own maritime affairs.

On 10 July 1911, King George V granted the prefix 'Royal' to the Australian Navy in honour of its increased size and status. This decision was formally promulgated by the Australian Commonwealth Navy Board later that year on 5 October. From that point in time, all Australian ships were to fly the Royal Navy's White Ensign beside the Australian flag. In just three years time, the new maritime force would be dragged into a war of historically unprecedented proportions. The immediate role of the Royal Australian Navy was to annex all of Germany's Pacific colonies to secure supply and trade routes. The Royal Australian Navy's first maritime battle was with the German light cruiser the SMS Emden. Von Spee had detached the Emden to roam the Indian Ocean independent of his command. From the period 1 August 1914 to 9 November 1914, the Emden sank or captured 30 Allied warships and merchant vessels. Captained by Karl von Muller, the single cruiser effectively brought the Indian Ocean to a standstill. To strengthen his dominance of the Indian Ocean, Captain Muller decided to send a landing party to Direction Island in the Cocos Islands to destroy a radio tower that served as a critical piece of wireless ship-to-ship communication infrastructure. When the Emdenlanded on 9 November 1914, the people of Direction Island managed to radio for help to HMAS Sydney, which was 80 kilometres away. Upon arrival, the Emden engaged the Sydney. The Royal Australian Navy's first sea battle ensued. Fighting valiantly and demonstrating the nation's newfound capability to defend itself, the Sydney's losses were four dead and 13 wounded, whilst the Emden sustained large-scale damage, with 131 dead and 65 wounded soldiers.

It is rare for a new naval force to have such a large-scale success in its first engagement; it was even rarer for this success to be achieved against a vessel from an empire that was one of the most powerful of its time. The personnel aboard the HMAS Sydney set the tone and high standard for members of the Royal Australian Navy for years to come. It was their original success that allowed the Royal Australian navy's culture of distinction and achievement to take its roots.

The centenary of the Royal Australian Navy also holds an element of personal significance. The electorate of Bennelong has many retired and current naval officers, including retired Navy Chief Harvey Porter, President of the Northern Metropolitan District Council of RSL Sub-Branches in New South Wales and President of Lane Cove RSL sub-branch. I wish to thank Mr Porter for his assistance in compiling the research on this motion.

Bennelong has a significant history in the construction of naval ships. When boat builder Lars Halvorsen died in 1936 from a bone infection at the age of 49, his will specified that his large estate be divided between his wife and seven children. This would have effectively dismantled the company. Backed by the entire family, the five sons went to court and convinced the judge that, despite their youth, they should continue to successfully operate their father's company. The new company that was formed was named Lars Halvorsen and Sons, headquartered in the suburb of Ryde, and grew to become the largest fully undercover factory of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

During World War II, over 250 Halvorsen ships were deployed by the Royal Australian Navy, the Dutch navy and the US navy. There were 112-foot Fairmiles, 60-foot torpedo boats and 38-foot air-sea rescue boats involved in many conflicts and proved vital in saving the lives of Australian naval officers. Two Halvorsens were involved in the chasing and depth-charging of Japanese midget submarines during the 1942 attack on Sydney Harbour. The Halvorsen's factory in Ryde built 237 vessels with a workforce of 350 who worked 24 hours a day.

In its short life, the Royal Australian Navy has distinguished itself in every ocean, with operations throughout Europe, North Africa, Asia and the Pacific. It has assisted the United Nations several times in global and regional peace-keeping missions. Just this year, the Royal Australian Navy rapidly responded to aid Australians in need following the horrific floods and cyclones in Queensland. Every day the fleet contributes to the security of our region, whilst upholding their core values of honour, honesty, courage, integrity and loyalty.

Last Thursday I was privileged to represent the Leader of the Opposition to welcome home the men and women of the HMAS Stuart. The tight-knit community recognises, respects and supports these great Australians who heroically choose to defend us and preserve our national sovereignty. Celebrating the first 100 years of the Royal Australian Navy and all of the heroism and selfless acts of bravery in the face of fire should focus our attention on those brave soldiers who so richly deserve recognition for their valour in the presence of the enemy in form of our nation's highest award, the Victoria Cross. In Senate estimates hearings last October, Senator Barnett raised the question of why none of Australia's 97 Victoria Cross recipients have hailed from the Royal Australian Navy. I am informed that two members of the Royal Australian Navy are now being considered for this rare honour. This would be a most fitting tribute in this year, the Centenary of the Royal Australian Navy.

This motion recognises the achievements of the men and women who have contributed their unique skills, expertise and courage towards our nation's defences, and those who continue to do so, and congratulates the Royal Australian Navy on a proud history over the past century. One hundred years may not be a long time in world history, yet for our nation it represents a great part of our history. The Royal Australian Navy is a great part of our history. I commend this motion to the House.

7:10 pm

Photo of Graham PerrettGraham Perrett (Moreton, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

As a Flight Lieutenant in the RAAF Reserve, it is with a little bit of trepidation that I stand to second the motion of the member for Bennelong on the Centenary of the Royal Australian Navy. But I am standing here as a politician, so I do so proudly and commend him on his motion. I also wish him many happy returns—on something short of his 100th birthday! That is a special occasion as well. This year was also the RAAF's 90th birthday. Everyone in the RAAF refers to the Navy as the 'Senior Service'. I think that is sometimes just to annoy the people in the Army, but the reality is that it is always called the Senior Service, because it has been around for so long. The 100 years we are celebrating today obviously recognises when King George V granted the 'Royal' title to what was then a 10-year-old Commonwealth naval force and also naval forces that were pulled from the colonies, because they had a history long before the Federation of Australia.

It is appropriate that we recognise the birthday—the Centenary, 100 years, of the very proud Royal Australian Navy—and I commend the member for Bennelong on the motion, particularly as a Queenslander. This year, a year of floods and cyclones, the Royal Australian Navy responded in a wonderful way when things were tough, when things were grim. When the floods and cyclones were in force all over Queensland, the Royal Australian Navy stepped up. I noticed that the commander-in-chief—a Queenslander, Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce—also noted that in her message marking 100 years of the Royal Australian Navy.

By way of history, I will start by acknowledging that during the First World War the Royal Australian Navy possessed 63 ships, 22 of which were requisitioned, and lost only two vessels, both submarines. From my vague recollection of school history, I think the first was in an operation in Germany-controlled Paua New Guinea, and I think the very first fatality in World War I might have been a Queensland sailor. I did not have a chance to track that down—the first fatality in the AE1—because today has been a busy day, but hopefully I will be able to track it down. The other RAN vessel that went down was at Gallipoli, running the blockade of Turkish forts. So only two vessels were lost. I think it is appropriate that I mention that these two vessels that went down were submarines—and I will return to this at the end of my contribution—because anyone who is connected with the Navy knows that whilst you need an incredible amount of courage to go to sea, it takes a particular type of courage to go under the sea—one might say a crazy-brave sort of courage—but I do commend them. One of the aged care facilities at Salisbury in my electorate is actually named after the submarine, so there is a particular connection there with my electorate. We do not have a naval base on the Brisbane River in my electorate as yet, but I will see what transpires. So World War I was the sign of a developing Navy.

Then if we turn to the Second World War our fleet had expanded significantly, and I am going to mention some of the names of these ships because they are connected with so many people in my electorate and with my RSLs. We have HMAS Australia, HMAS Canberra, HMAS Hobart, HMAS Sydney, HMAS Voyager, HMAS Swan and HMAS Yarrasome of those are famous names for all of us. By the time it came to later in the war, there were over 200 vessels in our fleet ranging from fleet oilers to other repair ships—an incredible number. Of the ships in commission prior to the outbreak of war, all except the Hobart and Swan were sunk. When you read statistics like that, it is easy to say it as though it did not impact on the lives of the families and the communities that come with those sorts of disasters, although the Hobart did sustain serious damage as a result of a torpedo hit. I will particularly turn to that because I would like to mention a Mr Chas Taylor and Mr Eric Wright who are both members of the Sunnybank RSL in my electorate—I would suggest one of the best RSLs in Australia.

Mr Chas Taylor and Mr Eric Wright are proud former members of the Royal Australian Navy and they served on HMAS Hobart during World War II. Mr Taylor joined the Navy in 1941 and was posted to the Hobart to the following year as a stores supply and gunnery control specialist. Mr Taylor was aboard the ship when it was torpedoed by Japanese forces near the Solomon Islands on 20 July 1943 where 13 crew and a US officer died. In fact, a piece of the boardroom table from HMAS Hobart is on the wall of the Sunnybank RSL.

On 2 September 1945 from the their vantage points aboard HMAS Hobart, Chas Taylor and Eric Wright, two of my constituents, witnessed the end of World War II. It is amazing what they saw. The two men were strangers at the time but they were sailors on their ship HMAS Hobart which moored in Tokyo Harbour not far from the USS Missouri aboard which the Japanese signed the surrender documents. They could see the USS Missouri and the surrender ceremonies through binoculars. Here they are, and I wish them well. I know Mr Wright is having a tough time at the moment.

It was interesting to hear from the member for Bennelong about the fact that, of the 97 Victoria Crosses awarded, none have been awarded to sailors, I think is what he said. Obviously no-one would doubt the courage of the people in the senior service, as I am sure the member opposite would acknowledge. However, when the member for Bass speaks on this motion, I think he is going to talk a bit further about how perhaps there should be two Tasmanians recognised, and I wish him well with that.

Obviously the Navy has taken shape from the days of having two submarines to the present where we have the Navy working in concert with Customs and the Air Force patrolling our borders. During the Christmas Island inquiry that I was on recently, we heard that basically they are deployed to look after 11 per cent of the world's surface, which is a lot of space for not many people and they see all sorts of things. They are trying to patrol our economic interests in keeping our fishing banks safe and in intercepting illegal maritime vessels to make sure that there is a control process in terms of immigration. They do incredible work. It was an honour and a pleasure to meet them on Christmas Island.

The people that get on these ships say goodbye to their family. I know this occurs for Army and Air Force personnel when they go on a posting overseas, but when you get on a ship it is a completely different experience because you are cut off from the rest of the community for such a long time.

I said I would return to the submariners in particular because I think it takes a particular courage to do the things that they do. If you have seen the circumstances inside the submarines, they are a little bit better than the submarines that sank in Papua New Guinea and at Gallipoli. However, I particularly wanted to mention the courage of the submariners and all the people in the Royal Australian Navy. I have been going to the Coral Sea commemoration service every year for the last four years, and it is amazing to see the camaraderie and hear the history and the events that occurred in the Battle of the Coral Sea. Admittedly, I would point out that it was the Air Force working in concert with the Navy that created that first victory—or the first victory we claimed. I think the Japanese claim it as a victory as well. It was definitely a successful operation and the first time that we had been able to halt that onslaught. It is amazing to hear the stories and see the people from World War II in particular, who are obviously not getting any younger. I just want to particularly thank them for their contribution during World War II and in Vietnam and beyond, Vietnam particularly, and wish them Happy Birthday.

7:20 pm

Photo of Stuart RobertStuart Robert (Fadden, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Defence Science, Technology and Personnel) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to support the brilliant motion by the member for Bennelong in recognising 100 years of service of the Royal Australian Navy and recognising the unique contribution made by the Royal Australian Navy not only to our national defence and security but also to the wider cultural fabric of our nation.

The motion seeks to recognise the naming of Australian Navy by King George V on 10 July 1911—in fact, the anniversary is in six days time—as a significant step forward towards Australia's independence from colonial rule, with independence having come a mere 11 years earlier. It also notes the significant role played by the electorate of Bennelong in the development of the Royal Australian Navy, particularly the construction of Halvorsen ships in Ryde. So it is fitting that this parliament rises to recognise 100 years of distinguished service.

It would be remiss of me as a graduate of the Royal Military College of Duntroon not to also mention that this year of course is the centenary of RMC Duntroon, which has for 100 years been putting out Australian military officers who have fought on the battlefields across the world.

But tonight we focus on the senior service, the Navy. I am sure the member for Bennelong has discussed the Navy's first maritime battle against the German light cruiser the SMS Emden seeking to move against Direction Island in the Cocos groups on 9 November. The first sea battle of course was the Emden versus HMAS Sydney. Whilst Sydney was to indeed lose four men killed in action and 13 wounded, the Emden sustained significantly larger damage with over 131 killed in action during that conflict.

Since then the Royal Australian Navy has distinguished itself from the launching of two submarines AE1 and AE2 in the First World War through to a more substantial fleet; in fact, one of the favourite maritime stories I share is of an AE1 stuck in the Dardanelles. As it sought to move through that thin sliver of water, it got stuck on the ocean floor directly below a significant fortified position on the cliffs of the Dardanelles. As the tide went out, the superstructure of the AE1 was exposed. Unfortunately, the canons in the fort, when lowered down, could not lower that far down into the ocean because of the proximity of the submarine to the cliffs. The submarine endured small arms fire until the tide rose and the AE1 slipped silently under the water. Could you imagine being a submariner inside your tin can whilst enemy combatants fired upon you? Such was the mettle of the Royal Australian Navy, which at that point was a mere three years old.

It is also important to realise that when our navy took our fighting men to Gallipoli, they left from Albany in Western Australia in 1949. Two Royal Australian Navy ships were taking our military to fight escorted by a Japanese warship. It just goes to show that our maritime cooperation with countries in our region stretches back almost 100 years.

It is fitting also that this week we remembered the greatest maritime loss of all time, which was the sinking of the Montevideo Maru sunk by the USS Sturgeon, an American submarine. Of course the Montevideo Maru was carrying over 100,000 prisoners of war and civilian prisoners and was lost. I have been public in my call for us to spend time and resources and indeed treasure to find the Montevideo Maru as we have spent time, resources and treasure finding HMAS Sydney and of course recently the HMAS Centaur. The Montevideo Maru is our nation's most significant naval disaster, and the ship deserves to be found. I have had communication with the great ship hunter who found the Centaur and HMAS Sydney, who has a fairly good bearing on where the Montevideo Maru would be. It is also instructive to note that, during World War II, over 170 submarines operated from Fremantle. It was the second largest submarine base in the world. We do indeed have a rich naval history.

Our modern navy will undergo significant changes: two LHDs are coming on board, as are three air warfare destroyers. There will be the replacement of our minesweepers and our hydrographic and Armidale class vessels with over 20 littoral ships and of course the submarine replacements. Our current operations include frigates in the Gulf where we have had one frigate continuously since 2001 and the work of our Armidale class patrol boats which continue to provide day and night border protection. We indeed have much to be proud of. (Time expired)

7:25 pm

Photo of Sid SidebottomSid Sidebottom (Braddon, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

In July 1940, Leading Seaman Jack Mantle, although mortally wounded, kept firing his gun right to the end as a swarm of Nazi stukas attacked his anti-aircraft ship, HMAS Foylebank, in the English harbour of Portland. For his valour Jack Mantle was fittingly awarded a Victoria Cross.

A statutory declaration by Colin Madigan AO, declared on 28 May 2008, states:

I, Colin Madigan AO, make the following declaration under the Statutory Declarations Act 1959:

I served in HMAS Armidale throughout her short life of six months from launching to sinking in action on December 1, 1942.

My action station was on the bridge in the Asdic cabinet and when they order "Abandon ship" was given I had difficulty extricating myself because of my Mae West, which was inflated. I could hear Teddy Sheean's Oerlikon firing all the time and when I eventually got into the water I saw his tracer shells coming up from under the surface. He had gone down with the ship, still fighting.

This act was awe-inspiring. It enters the universal temple Pantheon which records the world's great legends and in this instance combines that rarest of all qualities, altruism. The official gazettal of a Victoria Cross is overdue.

…   …   …

Since 2001, I have sought to have the actions of Teddy Sheean recognised both in this parliament and by the posthumous award of a Victoria Cross. I note that, in relation to this and similar episodes such as that by Richard Emms in Darwin when Darwin was being bombed and by other members of the Royal Australian Navy, not one member of the Royal Australian Navy has ever been awarded the Victoria Cross. After investigating the history of these cases, the only reason for this that I can find is that the RAN had a different honours system of advocacy from the Royal Australian Air Force and the AIF. Until recently, recommendations for a Victoria Cross and other honours for members of the Royal Australian Navy went through the Admiralty and not through the RAN. I think that in the instance of Teddy Sheean and others, like Robert Rankin, that is in a sense scandalous. No one wants to pit the feats of heroism of one person against another. Jack Mantle rightly received a Victoria Cross for what he did; Teddy Sheean was mentioned in dispatches for what he did. I have other records from those who were on the Armidale when it was sunk and subsequently strafed by Japanese fighters and bombers. I will quote from Ray Raymond, who says: 'At 3.15 on 1 December 1942, HMAS Armidale was attacked by 13 Japanese planes, with the result that the ship was hit by a torpedo on the port side abreast of the bridge.' He goes on to give descriptions of where he was. He swam 40 yards away from the ship when confronted by a torpedo. The bridge section of the ship sank first as a result of the section filling with water after the first torpedo. The aftersection righted itself 'from the tilt and after the Oerlikon came into sight, being manned by Teddy Sheehan, who was still firing the gun, which resulted in him shooting down one Japanese plane and damaging possibly two others'. He went on to say, 'As the ship broke in halves, both sections sank from the centre, with the result that Teddy Sheehan was still firing the Oerlikon gun as the aftersection of the ship disappeared below the surface, never to appear again.' That was witnessed by others, and I believe that this new honour system and the tribunal to review this should award a posthumous Victoria Cross. (Time expired)

7:31 pm

Photo of Malcolm TurnbullMalcolm Turnbull (Wentworth, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Communications and Broadband) Share this | | Hansard source

I first congratulate the member for Bennelong for giving us the opportunity today to talk about the centenary of the Royal Australian Navy. We are all very proud of the Royal Australian Navy. No-one is more proud than the citizens of my electorate of Wentworth. Our nation was founded by naval servicemen in the 18th century—Captain Arthur Phillip was an officer in the Royal Navy and all of the leading figures in the early years of our colony in New South Wales were naval officers. The governor, after whom I am named but from whom I am not descended, William Bligh, was a very distinguished admiral noted for his very delicate interpersonal skills.

In the electorate of Wentworth there are a series of important naval establishments which have been there for many years. The Australian Navy is commanded from Fleet Base East at Garden Island, at HMAS Kuttabul, one of the several stone frigates in my electorate. That has been so since 1856, since the New South Wales government granted Garden Island—when it was genuinely an island—to the Royal Navy for use as a place to moor and provision warships. Since then, the land behind the headland of Potts Point and Garden Island has been filled in and a vast dockyard has been created. It is one of the leading naval bases in the Southern Hemisphere. And it is right in the centre of our city. It is a remarkable and wonderful thing. People often talk about the Navy moving somewhere else, but I think that it is wonderful thing to have that vast naval and military establishment right there on the doorstep of our city—only a few hundred metres from the CBD.

If you go further east in my electorate out to South Head, you have HMAS Watson, an important training establishment for the Navy. Indeed, until relatively recent decades there was another training establishment at Rushcutter's Bay, HMAS Rushcutter. Fleet Base East or Garden Island is the home for some very important vessels, not of the stone variety but of the floating variety, including three Anzac-class frigates, the Stuart,Parramatta, and Ballarat; four Adelaide-class frigates, the Sydney, Darwin, Melbourne and Newcastle; two amphibious vessels, Tobruk and Kanimbla; and the supply ship HMAS Success. This is an important assemblage of our naval armoury and it is a reminder that we are a maritime power—not the greatest maritime power in the world; that honour belongs to the United States of America. Nonetheless, as an island entirely dependent on the seaways for our trade it is vital that our Navy is strong and that the traditions of endurance, determination and above all valour are maintained in the years ahead. There is not a patch of land in the electorate of Wentworth that has not been touched by the Navy. Every headland has been, at one point, involved with naval operations. People walking along the bush track from Rose Bay around to Nielsen Parkwould think they are in a nice, rustic domain, but if they venture out onto Steele Point, just a few metres away from the track, they will find a big sandstone gun emplacement built in the 19th century with VRI—Victoria Regina Imperatrix—carved into the stone. This is one of so many gun emplacements across the headlands of Sydney Harbour—across most of the headlands in Wentworth in fact—designed to protect the ships of the Royal Navy within Sydney Harbour and of course to sink the ships of whatever navy, presumably the Russian navy, that was going to attack us.

The Royal Australian Navy is a matter of great pride to all Australians, and particularly the residents of Wentworth, because, truly, the Navy is part of the Australian family and, above all, part of our family in Wentworth.

7:36 pm

Photo of Geoff LyonsGeoff Lyons (Bass, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to recognise the contribution that the Royal Australian Navy has made to our defence since its inception 100 years ago. The Navy has seen tremendous expansion from its beginnings as a small coastal defence force to a navy capable of defending Australia's maritime interests and contributing to regional defence. This year, 10 July will mark the centenary of King George V's approval of Australia's request to have the prefix 'Royal' attached to the Navy's title. This approval marked a significant step towards Australia's post-Federation independence from colonial rule, and reflected the growing responsibility and maturity of the national navy at a time of increasing international tensions. Indeed, it was less than a year before the outbreak of World War I when the flagship HMAS Australia led a force of cruisers and destroyers into Sydney Harbour for the first time. In 1914, the fleet was completed with the arrival of Australia's first submarines. The Royal Australian Navy played an important role throughout the First World War in defeating and deterring enemy forces, and protecting Australia's ports and shipping and trade routes.

During the Second World War, service men and women of the Royal Australian Navy took part in almost every major naval battle in World War II. A major turning point of World War II was the Battle of the Coral Sea. It was the first time in World War II that the Japanese experienced failure in a major operation, and the battle stopped the Japanese seaborne invasion of Port Moresby. However, the price of an eventual allied victory was high. The HMAS Sydney and one of two light cruisers were lost in battle. The Sydney famously sank an Italian cruiser in the Battle of Cape Spada earlier in the war. The ship was later involved in a battle with the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran and was lost at sea with all 645 crew members aboard. Those men and women were among the over 2,000 Royal Australian Navy personnel who lost their lives during World War II. Since the end of that war, men and women of the Navy have served with courage and discipline through some six decades of military action and peacekeeping duties.

Just as the Royal Australian Navy has played an integral part in the defence and protection of this country, it has, similarly, been just as important in shaping our national identity. Although the wartime stories may not be as well known as the Anzac legend, they are equally devastating and inspiring to hear. Often, the virtues of daring, mateship and courage under fire feature in these tales. I was especially thrilled to hear that, in the centenary year, the awarding of the Victoria Cross to Ordinary Seaman Edward 'Teddy' Sheeanand Leading Cook Francis Bassett Emms is currently being considered by the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal. It is with pride and honour that I am able to join my Tasmanian Labor colleague the member for Braddon who has, since 2001, sought the recognition of the courageous deeds and sacrifice of these brave young Tasmanians, and I know, from the member for Braddon's large file here, the amount of research he has done. We are all hoping that in the centenary year Teddy and Francis will receive this great honour. Teddy's act of courage is one of wartime's great gallantry stories. Teddy was serving on the Armidale and was ordered to undertake the resupply and evacuation of Japanese occupied Timor. The Japanese attacked the Armidale, which was hit by two aircraft launched torpedoes. The ship began to sink. Although wounded, rather than abandon ship Teddy strapped himself to the cannon and began to engage the attacking aircraft. He shot down two planes, and his crewmates recall seeing the tracer rising from beneath the surface as he was dragged underwater.

I look forward to the findings of the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal and hope that the service and sacrifice of both Teddy and Francis can be formally recognised through the honour of receiving a Victoria Cross. The actions of these brave young men epitomise the virtues of the Royal Australian Navy which are being celebrated as we commemorate 100 years of service to this nation. Once again, I would like to acknowledge the Royal Australian Navy in this centenary year of service and sacrifice to our nation, and I congratulate the member for Braddon for the years of work he has put into supporting these two applications.

Photo of Kirsten LivermoreKirsten Livermore (Capricornia, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.