May I start by acknowledging and respecting the Larrakia people, the traditional owners of the land on which we meet.

I want to thank and recognise the Assistant Minister for Veterans Affairs, the Leader of the Opposition my friend and colleague Lia Finocchiaro, your Chief Minister Eva Lawler, of course Your Worship the Mayor.

I also want to recognise the representatives of the United States of America and take this opportunity to thank you for your commitment to keeping the world free.

Next year is 250th birthday of the Marine Corps and I am sure it will be suitably celebrated, but I want to recognise those members of the Marine Corps who rotate through this city every year.

Few if any other military organisations have shed so much blood in the name of freedom as the United States Marine Corps and far too few Australians understand the sacrifice countless marines have made to keep our island continent free from tyranny and conquest.

And I want to recognise, in a testament to the power of reconciliation, in the 82 years since the Bombing of Darwin, that Japan has become one of Australia’s closest friends.

But most of all today, I want to recognise the people of Darwin.

On this day 82 years ago this city would provide the canvas for an important moment in our national story.

The 19th of February 1942 forever changed Australia.

Today, 82 years ago, around 240 Imperial Japanese high-altitude bombers, dive-bombers and fighters undertook two air raids.

The eye witness accounts make clear that the attacks were swift and unexpected.

We can imagine the screaming of the Japanese aircraft, the whistle of bombs falling toward the city, the blare of the sirens, the crack of bullets, and the force of explosions as buildings were levelled and lives taken forever.

Indeed, those violent acts which would occur over a matter of minutes would ripple through Australia.

Eye witness accounts from the attack were published in the days after the bombing in the Sydney Morning Herald.

While the residents of the harbour city of Sydney would only read about the bombings, they too would soon know the fear of being reached by the Imperial Japanese war machine.

The account of Captain A. A. Koch, himself in Hospital from a Japanese attack in Indonesia, conveys the sense of surprise when Darwin was bombed.

“I heard the wail of sirens and the roar of planes overhead almost simultaneously. I managed to get under my bed before the first bombs fell. A wing of the hospital was hit, and the nurses, who knew I had been in raids before, followed my example, and started getting other patients under the beds.

“After the first shock was over they started getting patients down to the beach, about 200 yards away. A doctor and nurse helped me to the shelter of some bushes, and covered me with a mattress. We could hear bombs falling in other parts of the town.”

Also reported were the acts of bravery as Australians and Americans ran toward the danger and took up their posts to defend this city.

Mr Ruddman, manager of a boarding house in Darwin, who was injured in the attack, paid tribute to crews of the anti-aircraft guns who, he said, did an incredible job saying, “they never ceased blazing away with their guns even when the enemy came down to within a couple of hundred feet.”

The tally of destruction was high and the impact to Australia’s national psyche was immense.

230 Allied service personnel and civilians were killed.

Ten ships were sunk and about 20 damaged.

More than 20 aircraft were destroyed.

Much of Darwin’s civilian and military infrastructure was either damaged or destroyed.

Beyond the loss of life and destruction the event shocked the nation, the war had arrived on the Australian mainland.

As the bombs landed in Darwin the psychological safety of our island continent’s geography was shattered once and for all.

And more raids would follow.

Between February 1942 and November 1943, Imperial Japanese bombers attacked Darwin sixty-three more times.

Thirty further raids targeted strategic sites in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland.

Imperial Japanese submarines would attack ships and shell suburbs in Sydney and Newcastle.

But it was on this day, in this place that the war arrived in Australia.

While today 82 years on we rightly reflect on the historical significance of the bombing of Darwin we also must look forward.

New storm clouds darken our horizon today as we face the most uncertain geopolitical landscape since the Second World War.

A war in Europe, a war in the Middle East, and an arms race in our Indo-Pacific region.

A new generation of leaders is contemplating how they would heed the circumstances confronted by the brave men and women here in Darwin 82 years ago.

Now as then Australia is not alone.

Now as then our mates stand beside us, and us with them.

As the storm clouds gather across our region the mateship forged in the fires of battle right here in our backyard will matter more than ever.

So today as we rightly remember the bravery of those who ran towards their posts to defend this great city, a city that sits at the gateway to Australia’s north, let us thank them for their sacrifice and take inspiration from their example as we face the challenges that lie ahead.

Lest we forget.