Letters to the editor

Elliston’s monument saga

As a former senior officer of the District Council of Elliston, I have followed the unfolding saga of the Coastal Trail monument and its wording with an increased level of interest since my first letter in July this year.

The project is part of a $1.75-million development of the coast adjacent to Elliston township, with the council providing $630,000 of the money, but I cannot find any public record of the council actually showing respect to its ratepayers or co-contributors by asking for comment on the actual memorial or it proposed wording prior to, or since the project commenced.

When did the council formally resolve to adopt and implement the Wirangu proposal and where is that recorded?

Prior to accepting that proposal, did the council seek consultation from its ratepayers on that proposal? If not, why not? If so, what were the responses received and where are they recorded?

Did the council consult the two other major contributors re the proposed wording? Did both of them say that they were satisfied that the “Elliston massacre” wording would not be seen to be offensive to some, divisive to a few more and may cause public concern and disquiet to many? Where is the request and response recorded?

The project had been on the drawing board since 2011 and is still not finalised. There were ample opportunities to fully disclose the monument’s wording and seek comment. Why did the council wait until 2017 to do so?

I note that at its most recent meeting, council resolved to retain the word “massacre”, but to leave that resolution “lying on the table”, while they sought further input from the Wirangu. Why didn’t they ask ratepayers to provide alternative wordings for consideration by the council and the Wirangu?

This current situation is untenable and unless the wording can be mutually agreed upon, the monument portion of the project should be abandoned.

All stakeholders need to be involved, respected and permitted to have recorded input into the final outcome (even if it doesn’t fit with the council’s recently resolved position). All parties will then have a sense of ownership of the outcome and that ownership will build reconciliation. 

As before, I trust the council can achieve consensus on an acceptable wording, finish the job, hasten closure and move on.



Dump to have wider impact

In response to Kathy Bradley’s excellent letter (Port Lincoln Times, September 7), Kathy makes the point that the Kimba District Council definitely need to be aware that this nuclear waste dump the council seem to want in their area is not acceptable to a huge number of residents on Eyre Peninsula.

This proposed dump definitely will affect the whole peninsula, not just the area represented by the Kimba District Council.

Professional fishing, tourism and our ‘Clean Green Agriculture’ image could be affected if this waste is shipped up Spencer’s Gulf as proposed, then transported by rail. The results of the slightest mishandling of the drums would be catastrophic.

As Kathy Bradley states, if the storage facilities are so safe why not leave it at Lucas Heights?



Looking for 12 Recovery Section descendants

Tuesday, September 12 was the 73rd anniversary of the sinking of the Japanese cargo ship Rakuyo Maru in the South China Sea, 12 September 1944. The ship was carrying 1318 Australian and British prisoners of war most of whom had been working on the notorious Thai-Burma Railway.

A convoy of ships of which Rakuyo Maru was one, was intercepted by several American submarines. The USS Sealion II torpedoed Rakuyo Maru. It sank leaving hundreds of prisoners of war floundering in the water. More than 1000 prisoners of war from Rakuyo Maru died at sea. The US submarine captains had no idea any of these ships were carrying allied prisoners.

On 15 September, the American submarine USS Pampanito, which was part of the original attack, returned to the area and discovered dozens of survivors floating in the ocean. All up 159 Australian and British men were rescued; 152 of them lived to tell the tale including five men from SA.

Amongst them was Private Kenneth P. Williams of Oakbank SA who was a member of the South Australian raised 12 Recovery Section which served in Singapore and Malaya. Two other SA members, L/Corporal J D Laurenti, Private Vinrace H. P. Williams and Private Rex A. Wilson, died at sea.

I am endeavouring to research the history of 12 Recovery Section which was attached to the 2/4th Army Field Workshop. This unit of about 75 men, all South Australian, was raised at the Wayville Showgrounds in January 1941, was later shipped to Singapore in August 1941. It saw action in Malaya and Singapore in January and February 1942. Most of the unit was captured by the Japanese so becoming prisoners of war.

I am trying to contact as many descendants of the soldiers of 12 Recovery Section as possible. My aim is to document the unit’s history. I can be contacted on 0427 622257 and would be very happy to speak with those descendants.



Furniture stolen

To the low life persons who stole a white wrought iron chair off a front verandah on Feltus Street the night on Friday, September 1. It had been there more than 40 years.

It did originally belong to my parents and was handed down to me as an heirloom.


Port Lincoln