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
AUSTRALIA’S FIRST ACTION OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR REMEMBERED
Today we mark the centenary of Australia’s first campaign of the First World War and remember in particular the six men who fell in the brief but bitter encounter at Bita Paka in German New Guinea.
The Battle of Bita Paka was fought on 11 September 1914. Five Australian sailors and one soldier, a medical officer, lost their lives. We remember those who were killed, and we remember those who were left behind to mourn their loss. These men paid the ultimate sacrifice in a successful campaign to prevent a German fleet from dominating the Pacific and threatening Allied shipping.
Australia’s involvement in German New Guinea and the fighting at Bita Paka is a significant part of the Anzac Centenary. At the initial request of the British government for Australia to occupy Germany’s Pacific colonies and destroy their wireless stations, the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (AN&MEF) was formed and dispatched to New Guinea and other islands to Australia’s north.
The wireless station at Bita Paka was a vital part of Germany’s Pacific communications network, enabling communications between the German fleet and ports around the region. When they reached it after the fighting at Bita Paka, the Australians found it had already been destroyed.
The Battle of Bita Paka is one of many events that will be commemorated between 2014 and 2018 to honour Australia’s involvement in the First World War.
During the Centenary of Anzac, we mark a century of service and sacrifice, encompassing all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations in which Australians have been involved. The Centenary will be the most significant period of commemoration in our nation’s history and the Government is committed to providing opportunities for all Australians to participate.
Minister Ronaldson: Brad Rowswell 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