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Relatives applaud decision to fund memorial


VETERANS OF THE New Guinea campaign in World War II and relatives of the men who died in New Britain and in the sinking of the Montevideo Maru have expressed delight and excitement at the Australian Opposition’s decision to provide funds for a memorial being planned for Canberra.

The 1942 sinking of the Montevideo Maru – carrying over 1,000 Australian troops and civilians captured by the Japanese in Rabaul, then the capital of New Guinea – remains Australia’s the worst tragedy at sea.

Today Opposition leader, Tony Abbott, and Shadow Veteran's Affairs Minister, Louise Markus, committed $100,000 in the 2011-12 Federal budget to help build the memorial.

“This is a generous offer by the Coalition and it will go a long way to making sure a permanent memorial is built at the Australian War Memorial,” said Keith Jackson, President of the Rabaul and Montevideo Maru Society.

“For nearly 70 years, the relatives of the men who died believed Australia had given up on them and that the nation did not care.

“The sinking of this hellship was a terrible event that most Australians had not heard of.

“In June this year, the Federal Labor Government granted $100,000 to the memorial and the statement that the Coalition will match this if elected to office is great news.

“Also in June, for the first time, Parliament expressed regret and sorrow at the loss.

“After all these years, the relatives and the few remaining veterans who escaped from Rabaul, are overwhelmed that the nation has given them the recognition they have been waiting for.

“They are really feeling a sense of resolution and closure.”

Australians go to the polls at a general election in nine days time. The two main parties - Labor and Liberal/National - are running neck and neck.


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