OPEN LETTER: Bring back our guns please

Dear Marise Payne, Minister of Defence,

I am writing today on two counts.

Firstly, to request your assistance in the honoring of a commitment made some years ago by the Australian Government Department of Defence to myself, acting on behalf of Gladstone Maritime Museum.

The commitment relates to the supply of two decommissioned 50cal machine guns plus dummy Bofor dress ammunition for display on the ex naval patrol boat HMAS Gladstone.

I was responsible in March 2007 in arranging the decommissioning of this vessel and it's subsequent relocation to Gladstone (it's namesake) in Central Qld - to what was the slipway I owned at the time.

It has taken some considerable time, effort and money by numerous individuals and organizations but the HMAS Gladstone is now on permanent display at Gladstone's new and prestigious East Shores waterside estate.

The vessel recently opened to the public for inspection, but of course is lacking the fighting equipment crucial to it's role in defence - the machine guns.

The guns were promised to me, acting on behalf of the museum, by the director, at the time, of Disposals & Marketing Agency - Australian Government Department of Defence, Defence Material Organisation Michael Epps.

Unfortunately my efforts to contact Mr Epps have been unsuccessful.

It appears he no longer holds this position and is unreachable on the phone numbers and email addresses shown on the card he gave me.

I have since also contacted and been assisted by our local member for Flynn, Mr Ken O'Dowd.

His efforts on our behalf although gallant were not successful due to the length of time it has taken to restore this vessel.

It is for this reason I am writing to you myself in the hope that you can offer the people of Gladstone, Central Qld the equipment needed to showcase this vessel in all it's former glory.

It is anticipated this vessel will be used as a teaching tool for our students, and the students of the future as well as those members of the public interested in learning about the place this patrol boat held in the defence of our wonderful country.

If you are able to assist in arranging for the supply of two decommissioned 50cal machine guns and dummy Bofor dress ammunition to the Gladstone Maritime museum it would be very much appreciated.

Needless to say I have numerous documents and copies of communications regarding this vessel and the associated artillery.

I am happy to enclose a number of these for your information.

Finally though, after many years of hard work, countless thousands of dollars of greatly appreciated donations, it would be such an asset to give the people of Central Queensland a fully restored patrol boat - complete with artillery.

Secondly: It has come to my attention there are 8 Historical Army Tanks which are to be used for live fire training purposes at Shoalwater Bay - about an hour's drive north of Gladstone.

These wonderful old pieces of history are to be blown up!

Whilst I realize the importance of realism in training, it is hard to believe the last 8 tanks of this type in Australia are to be destroyed.

The Gladstone/Central Queensland Region is passionate about its historical roots.

To this end we have a thriving historical village just north of the town, and an annual air show (The Old Raglan Fly-In and Heritage Show) which showcases the aircraft used in both civilian and military life.

The old planes used in World Wars One and Two receive the greatest accolades.

This air show grows in popularity year on year.

It now also incorporates pyrotechnics in its display and raises much needed funds for the Capricorn Helicopter Service.

The addition of a Centurion Tank could only further increase the popularity of this vital fund raising event.

It would be of great benefit to this district if perhaps two of these old tanks could be donated to our relevant historical bodies.

We would treat them as a labour of love - much as we have with the HMAS Gladstone - and restore them to their original state for display and instruction.

One of these tanks could then be on permanent display at the site of the air show, itself a historical venue at the Creed Family Homestead.

The second would be for display in a separate museum.

Finally, I have attached a copy of a previous submission made by Gladstone Maritime Museum around twelve months ago which resulted in a number of our requests for assistance being met.

The only outstanding items still needed from this submission are the two crucial machine guns and Bofor dress ammunition.

As they were promised to me personally, I feel it only right that I involve myself once again in the request for these.

The tanks are a new idea, but one which I feel merits some attention.

The ability to include items such as this as a local historical resource would be priceless.

I thank you for your time, and sincerely hope you are able to assist.

The Gladstone Maritime Museum and the Fly-In Heritage Site will gladly give all appropriate credit in the media where it is due.


Ron Harding

Central Qld Tool Supplies

and board member, Gladstone Maritime Museum

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