The New South Wales Parliamentary Secretary for Veterans Affairs,
Charlie Lynn, has called for Australian government agencies and media
organisations to respect the sovereign right of Papua New Guinea to
name its own geographic features and respect the prestigious battle
honour 'Kokoda Trail' awarded to the Papuan Infantry Battalion and the
10 Australian infantry battalions who fought in the Kokoda campaign
and paid such a heavy price for it to be emblazoned on their flags and
Lynn has posted a Notice of Motion in the NSW Parliament as he
believes it should be addressed as we approach the 70th anniversary of
the raising of the Australian flag at Kokoda on November 3, 2012.
The origin of the official name, Kokoda Trail', dates back to 1947
when an Australian Battles Nomenclature Committee was established to
define the battles in the Pacific. Their final report in 1958 adopted
'Kokoda Trail' as the official Commonwealth battle honour which was
awarded to 10 infantry battalions and the Pacific Island Regiment.
During the establishment of self-government in PNG in 1972, Australian
administrators established a 'Place Names Committee' to examine the
issue and recommended the official name be proclaimed 'Kokoda Trail'.
Chief Minister Michael Somare took office on June 23, 1972 when the
nation achieved self-government as part of the process to independence
Somare accepted the recommendation of the Place Names Committee and
the name 'Kokoda Trail' was gazetted four months later on October 12,
The name 'Kokoda Track' evolved after former Australian Prime Minister
Paul Keating kissed the ground at Kokoda on the 5oth anniversary of
the campaign in April 1992. This was accompanied by much 'talkback'
debate about 'trail' being an American term and 'track' being the
language of the Australian bush.
This suited Keating's agenda for an Australian republic at the time.
It also suited those in the Australian commentariat who harboured a
strong anti-American bias after the invasion of Iraq.
They have now ensured that 'Kokoda Track' has emerged as the more
acceptable politically correct term in Australia.
The 70th anniversary of the raising of the Australian flag at Kokoda
is an appropriate name for PNG to reclaim the name of its most famous
wartime icon and ask that their sovereign right to name their national
geographic features be respected.