Premier Alan Carpenter today announced that the State Government would assist in a special commemoration service for HMAS Sydney.
Mr Carpenter said Geraldton MLA Shane Hill had been instrumental in recognising that an appropriate service be held to honour the 645 servicemen who lost their lives during HMAS Sydney’s battle with the German raider, the Kormoran, on November 19, 1941.
Mr Hill will chair a small working group in Geraldton to identify a suitable date and program to honour these servicemen.
“The discovery this week of HMAS Sydney’s final resting place will hopefully end years of speculation on what actually happened that fateful November day and provide answers as to why none of the 645 Australians on board survived the battle,” Mr Carpenter said.
“This is an historic moment for Western Australia and indeed, for the nation.”
The Premier said he was also supportive of Mr Hill’s suggestion that the current status of the Geraldton memorial be upgraded to reflect the significance of HMAS Sydney.
“The memorial currently has national significance, however, Mr Hill has requested this be upgraded,” he said.
Mr Hill said he was writing to the Federal Government to support the upgrade of the memorial, and said the importance of the discovery of HMAS Sydney was significant for all Australians.
“I can only imagine that this historic discovery would be a mixture of great relief and sadness for the relatives and descendants of the 645 Australian servicemen who were lost at sea,” Mr Hill said.
“The discovery will hopefully bring some closure to the community, and resolve many years of not knowing where their loved ones final resting place was.”
Mr Carpenter said he expected this year’s ANZAC Day ceremonies would have a very special significance, particularly in Geraldton and Carnarvon, because of HMAS Sydney’s discovery.
“I’d like to pay a special tribute to those involved in the search for such a long time,” the Premier said.
“Let’s hope the discovery answers all the questions surrounding one of the great historical maritime mysteries.”
The State Government provided $500,000 in 2005 towards the search for HMAS Sydney, along with $250,000 from the NSW Government and $4.2million from the Commonwealth Government.
Mr Carpenter said he was pleased that Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett had already moved to legally protect the historic wrecks of HMAS Sydney and the German raider Kormoran.
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