Veterans upset over war memorial attack

The Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway, which links Concord Hospital and Rhodes train station in Sydney’s west, was vandalised sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning.


Graffiti was sprayed on parts of the site and a number of CCTV cameras were smashed. Rusty Priest, chairman of the Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway board, estimates a damage bill of $50,000. The state government stepped in late on Saturday, announcing it had set aside $10,000 for immediate repairs and would also cover the entire cost of restoration. Mr Priest, a former president of the NSW RSL, hopes the memorial honouring Australian soldiers’ sacrifice in Papua New Guinea during WWII, will be “back in business” by next week. He described the incident as an “attack on Australia’s history”. “The veterans have problems with trying to grasp that someone would want to do damage and desecrate their memorial which they see is a living memorial to all the veterans, Australian servicemen and women, who served in WWII,” he told AAP. “It represents the struggle they had. “They are most upset about it.” The memorial spans 800 metres with a centrepiece structure of granite walls and 22 stations that signify important battles fought in the New Guinea campaign during World War II. It has been a constant target of vandals since it opened in 1995. NSW Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell, who recently walked the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea, labelled the desecration of any war memorial as un-Australian. He says the “heartless” attackers should be brought to justice immediately. “It’s devastating to think there are people in our community who would want to disrespect (the sacrifices made during World War II),” he said in a statement. Police are reviewing CCTV footage they hope will lead to a swift arrest but have appealed for help from the public with the investigation. Anyone with information about the attack is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.