Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Australian Governor-General pays tribute to diggers in PNG

ByEoin Blackwell, 

AAP Papua New Guinea Correspondent

GOVERNOR-GENERAL Quentin Bryce has laid a flower at the grave of the first Australian fighter killed in World War I during her state visit to Papua New Guinea.
Ms Bryce paused at the grave of W.G.V. Williams at Bita Paka war cemetery in Rabaul on Tuesday, the second day of her visit.
Seaman Williams died on September 11, 1914, following a skirmish with the Germans on the site where the cemetery is now located.
Bita Paka is the final resting place of more than 400 Australians killed in two world wars.
Ms Bryce also laid a wreath at a memorial to members of Lark force who died in East New Britain and on the Montevideo Maru.
The sinking of the Japanese transport ship almost 71 years ago carrying prisoners of war and civilians from Rabaul is considered Australia's worst wartime maritime disaster.
After arriving in New Britain aboard a Royal Australian Airforce C130 Hercules, Ms Bryce travelled to a health clinic to deliver medicine and medical supplies.
She visited Kokopo primary school, where Ausaid has built two schoolrooms, to meet students and plant a tree.
At a lunch in her honour at the Kokopo beach bungalow, former PNG governor-general Sir Paulias Matane told Ms Bryce she and Prime Minister Julia Gillard were an inspiration to women in PNG.
Ms Bryce said the treatment of women was a grave problem in the Pacific island nation.
"It's the most important human rights issue in the world and it's a very grave issue in this country," Ms Bryce said.
"The world must take action in every country.
"It's time we heard more men speaking out."
Sir Paulias said PNG must face up to its treatment of women and confront the violence in society.
"We are going to do our best to change the thinking of these people," he said.
Violence against women is an endemic problem in PNG and has been brought to international attention following the burning murder in February of 20-year-old Kepari Leniata, accused of witchcraft.
More recently, a US academic was pack-raped near Madang on the nation's east coast.
Ms Bryce also visited the Family and Sexual Violence Unit at Kokopo police station for a private conversation with survivors of domestic violence.
On Wednesday Ms Bryce will meet with women's groups at PNG's Parliament House in Port Moresby.
On Thursday she will attend a dawn service at Port Moresby's Bomana war cemetery, before flying to Isurava and Kokoda to lay wreaths at memorials there.
She will return to Australia on Friday.

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