I will visit Papua New Guinea from 2-4 November to represent Australia at commemorations marking the 75th anniversary of the recapture of Kokoda village by Australian troops.
I will attend a service at Kokoda on 3 November, Papua New Guinea’s Kokoda Day, to mark the anniversary of the raising of the Australian flag in 1942 at the end of three-and-a-half months of fighting along the Kokoda Track.
The Kokoda campaign was vital in turning back the Japanese in the Pacific and ensuring the security of Australia.
It cost hundreds of Australian and Papua New Guinean lives, while many thousands were wounded or suffered severe illnesses.
The bonds between Australia and Papua New Guinea were forged in war. Papuan Infantry Battalion troops fought bravely to stem the Japanese advance and Papuan carriers, the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels, provided enormous support, including carrying sick and wounded soldiers from the battlefield.
These bonds endure today through the close connections between communities and trekkers on the Kokoda Track, and the governments and people of both nations.
At Kokoda, I will open new classrooms built by the Papua New Guinea-Australia Kokoda Initiative, and launch a commemorative children’s book created by students of both nations and organised by the Kokoda Track Foundation.
I will attend a commemoration in Popondetta for the beachhead battles of Gona, Buna and Sanananda that formed the final, brutal stage of the campaign in Papua during 1942-43.
I will also meet senior Papua New Guinea Government representatives to reinforce the deep and broad contemporary relationship between our countries focused on shared economic and strategic objectives.
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