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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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Thursday, 14 May 2015


It is with sadness that I extend my condolences to the family and friends of former prisoner of war (POW) and South Australian veteran community advocate Bill Schmitt AM, who passed away at the age of 97 earlier this month.

Mr Schmitt was an inaugural member of the Veterans Advisory Council and was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1994 for his services to the veteran community. He was awarded a Centenary Medal in 2001.

Having fought in the Syrian campaign with the 2/3rd Australian Machine Gun Battalion during the Second World War, Mr Schmitt’s battalion was recalled to Australia after the fall of Singapore in 1942.  Before they reached Australia, elements of the battalion, including Mr Schmitt, were sent to meet the Japanese threat to Java, where after just two days of fighting they were taken prisoner.

After returning from the unimaginable horrors of being held as a POW, Mr Schmitt dedicated his life to the welfare of returned servicemen. He was Patron of the Ex-Prisoners of War Association of Australia and was also the long-serving Secretary of the 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion Association.

Mr Schmitt was one of the most respected members of South Australia’s veteran community and his contribution to the Veterans Advisory Council in particular has been immeasurable. His legacy will live on.

I send my deepest sympathies to Mr Schmitt’s family during this difficult time.

Media enquiries:
Minister Ronaldson: Mark Lee 02 6277 7820 or 0408 547 381
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 (49 KB)