House debates

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Statements by Members

Rogers, Chief Petty Officer Jonathan, GC, DSM

1:58 pm

Photo of Deborah O'NeillDeborah O'Neill (Robertson, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to place on record a very important event that was held in the seat of Robertson over the weekend. The Central Coast subsection of the Naval Association of Australia held a memorial service for the rededication of the memorial to Chief Petty Officer Jonathan Rogers, GC, DSM. At the outset, I congratulate Bruce and Cheryl Bowmaker, Bruce Smith, retiring president of the Central Coast subsection Gordon Clunes and Father Max Sainsbury for their special care in preparing the event for the day.

In 1986, the naming of Rogers Park in Woy Woy, New South Wales, recalled Australian Navy's worst peacetime disaster. It was an event that shocked the nation. Chief Petty Officer Jonathan Rogers, a local from the Woy Woy peninsula, was one of 82 men who lost their lives in a collision at sea on the night of 10 February 1964. On the night of that fatal disaster, the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne and the destroyer HMAS Voyager were conducting exercises off the New South Wales south coast when a terrible incident happened that saw more than 50 men, including Rogers, trapped in the darkness. Chief Petty Officer Rogers took control and brought calm to the situation. From all reports he was more intent on getting the younger chaps out first. He was later posthumously awarded the George Cross, the highest bravery award then available in peacetime, for:

… organising the escape of as many as possible and encouraging … those few who could not escape … to meet death alongside him with dignity and honour.

I am pleased to put on the record his great bravery.

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Order! In accordance with standing order 43, the time for members’ statements has concluded.