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The US Government is seeking to establish a new military-related satellite ground station in Australia.
The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, Peter Garrett, has confirmed that the Rudd Government favours the establishment in Australia of a meteorological satellite ground station for the US Government's national polar-orbiting operational environmental satellite system.
Mr Garrett has confirmed that negotiations are ''well advanced on a formal agreement under the umbrella of a pre-existing memorandum between the Bureau of Meteorology and the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration''.
In July 1942 Australia had just two Militia brigades in Port Moresby, the administrative centre of Papua. In that month the Japanese landed troops at Buna and Gona on the Papuan north coast and in the following month they landed another force at Milne Bay.
The barrier between the Japanese forces in the north and Port Moresby on the south coast was the Owen Stanley Range - a steep, rugged series of mountains crossed only by a few foot tracks, the most important of which was the Kokoda [Track]. At the end of June, one thousand Militiamen, ‘Maroubra’ force, had been ordered to hold Kokoda and its airfield against any possible Japanese attack - but this proved an impossible task.
By the end of July the Militia were carrying out a fighting retreat and it was not until late in August that reinforcements from the 7th Division A.I.F. began to reach them. The A.I.F. men, trained for desert warfare, found the country more frightening than they found the Japanese. Confusion was created by Japanese advances through the trackless jungle on the flanks of positions the Australians were prepared to defend.
By mid-September the Australians had dug in at Imita Ridge, fifty kilometres from Port Moresby, and were ordered to hold that position. A fight to the death was expected but the Japanese, lacking sufficient supplies and fearing an American attack on their base at Buna, began to withdraw.
During November the Australians were pursuing the Japanese through the stinking mud and treacherous, slippery tracks as they went back along the Kokoda [Track]. The Japanese advance through the rain-sodden jungles of Papua had been turned into a retreat but, even though many of them were sick and starving, it was always a fighting retreat.
The Australian advance was aided by the American 32nd Division which established bases to the south of Buna while the Australians pushed on down the Kokoda [Track] and across country from Wanigela. Gona was taken on 9 December and on 2 January 1943 Buna was captured. Sanananda, held by 600 Japanese, was not taken until 12 January. The Papuan campaign ended with the surrender of Japanese survivors on 22 January.
Out of a force of about 20,000 the Japanese had lost 13,000, most of whom had fought to the death rather than surrender. The campaign cost Australia over 6000 casualties. Tropical diseases, as much as the fighting, had taken their toll on both armies.