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Previous Ministers' releases and speeches - Senator The Hon. Michael Ronaldson

Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC
Special Minister of State

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Tuesday, 5 August 2014


One hundred years on from what was believed to be the ‘first shot’ fired by British Empire forces during the First World War, the community has gathered at Fort Nepean to remember this momentous event in Australian history.

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Centenary of ANZAC, Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson, joined the Governor of Victoria, local Federal Member for Flinders, the Hon Greg Hunt MP and the  Portsea and Mornington Peninsula community to pay tribute to the men who fired the shot, and remember the heady circumstances which lead to the event on 5 August 1914.

“Lieutenant C Morris, received orders to stop the German steamer, SS Pfalz, from leaving Port Phillip Bay.  An 100 pound, six inch round from gun emplacement six was fired in accordance with his orders to ‘stop her’,” Senator Ronaldson said

“The shot came after the Pfalz ignored the demand that she ‘heave to’ instead of continuing her plan to sail out of Port Phillip Heads.  The shot reinforced the demand from Australian authorities and, as a second round was loaded and after a scuffle on the bridge between the pilot and the ship’s captain, the Pfalz was surrendered and she returned to Portsea.”

“The shot was heard in Melbourne’s southern suburbs and around Port Phillip Bay as the gunners at Fort Nepean won a small and mercifully bloodless victory.  Lieutenant Morris sought and received confirmation for what must have seemed an unusual order and fulfilled his duty, as generations of Australian servicemen and women have done since, ” Senator Ronaldson said.

“On 5 August 1914 no one could imagine the horrors that the war held in store, and Australians might be surprised that what is claimed to have been the first shot fired by British Empire forces came from a gun emplacement on the southern tip of the Australian mainland,” Senator Ronaldson said.

Descendants of Fort Nepean’s gunners, along with other military dignitaries and members of the public, laid wreaths and took part in a special commemorative service today at Point Nepean National Parks.

“I am pleased that the Commonwealth Government was able to provide $10,000 to support this event through the Anzac Centenary Local Grants Programme.  I commend and thank the community and local MP Greg Hunt for their passionate support for this project.

“As a single shot sounded today to commemorate this historic occasion, we as a nation are reminded of Australia’s first action in a war that cast a long shadow over the twentieth century.” 

“As we enter the Anzac Centenary period, events such as this will allow Australians to remember the service and sacrifice of all those who have served our country, not only during the First World war, but over the100 years since,” Senator Ronaldson said. 

For information on the Anzac Centenary Programme please visit the Anzac Centenary Website  and the Anzac Centenary Facebook page at  To get involved in the conversation use #AnzacCentenary.

Media inquiries: 
Minister Ronaldson: Brad Rowswell 02 6277 7820 or 0417 917 796
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) and Veterans Line can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046

PDF version (299 KB)