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Apr 23, 2010

When Anzac Day is unAustralian

Neil James, Executive Director of the Australia Defence Association, writes about the common myths associated with Anzac Day. Plus Tamils, hoodies, the Wilderness Society and more.

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The Wilderness Society:

A concerned staff member of The Wilderness Society writes: Re. “Greenies see red as Wilderness Society descends into chaos” (yesterday, item 6). Further to the article published on Thursday, 22 April, by Andrew Crook — I was actually present for the “tirade” your reporter suggests Alec Marr “unleashed” on an unsuspecting staff.

In reality, it was less of a tirade than a well-intended reminder (following some fairly petty staff behaviour) that we all make compromises of one sort or another but that our goal to protect Australia’s precious natural environment is what unites us at TWS – irrespective of what you wear, what you eat or, for that matter, what you drive to work.  Sadly, the message seems to have been completely lost on some of the attendees at the meeting if this is now their version of events.

But why let the facts get in the way of a good story?

What yesterday’s cracking yarn also fails to mention is that the National Management Committee of The Wilderness Society Inc is not attempting to cement its power … what it is trying to do – with the support of the vast majority of members — is reform the organisation’s constitution to ensure the collective voice of our membership is heard, not just those few who can attend, and potentially stack, a physical general meeting.

The Wilderness Society has called a general meeting for Sunday, May 2, for exactly this purpose — members will be asked at that meeting to pass a resolution to enable postal voting to elect officeholders.  If this resolution is passed, it will effectively democratise The Wilderness Society Inc and empower members to determine the composition of the Management Committee at an Annual General Meeting which has been called for Wednesday, 30 June.

Why is the ‘Save TWS’ campaign so afraid of empowering our 46,000 members and letting them decide who should govern the organisation?

Given the strength of their convictions you would think they would be more than happy with what’s proposed, so why not put it to the test, eh?!

ANZAC Day:

Neil James, Executive Director, Australia Defence Association, writes: Re. “Come in spinner: the PR campaigns driving Anzac Day” (yesterday, item 3) & “Anzac Day: when commemoration becomes commerce”  (yesterday, item 16). Noel Turnbull and Francis Leach both tackled aspects of Anzac Day in our culture and especially misuse of the day by politicians and advertisers. Several points of fact or perspective they missed are also worth noting.

First, the recent book of essays edited by Henry Reynolds and Marilyn Lake represents one extreme of political debate about Anzac Day, not its intellectual, political or indeed cultural centre. The opposite extreme was recently represented in “Quadrant” by the conspiracy theories of Mervyn Bendle.

Second, politically partisan misuse of Anzac Day, Australia’s military history generally or our current defence force is not the sole preserve of conservative political parties. Labor’s emphasis on the so-called but actually never-occurring “Battle for Australia”, or zeroing in on the Kokoda campaign to the exclusion of all others whether in our region or more broadly, are prominent examples to the contrary.

Third, Anzac Day is a day for veterans and their families, and for general public acknowledgement of the sacrifices they made and often continue to make. It is not, and should not be, a military day. Except for bands, the ADA believes no formed unit of the ADF should march in uniform on Anzac Day unless recently returned from active service overseas (or perhaps every decade or so if commemorating some significant milestone anniversary of that unit in battle).

Fourth, the ADA has been the biggest critic of the politicisation of farewell and welcome home ceremonies for ADF contingents deployed overseas. Our necessarily non-partisan defence force must never be misused to score political points in either perception or actuality.

Fifth, it is a pity that for the other 364 days of the year most Australians do not think much, or at all, about the lessons from past conflicts as to how we can best defend Australia now and in the future.

Finally, several years ago before and after the annual Collingwood-Essendon match former Collingwood captain, Nathan Buckley, whose father is a Vietnam veteran, spoke eloquently about what Anzac Day meant — and in particular why there is no comparison between the sporting field and the battlefield as some advertising spruikers are wont to stupidly claim.

Disclosure: Neil James is a life-long Collingwood supporter and agrees with Francis Leach that Oliver Cromwell is much misjudged.

CPRS:

Tony Kevin writes: Re. “Official: carbon leakage is wildly overstated” (yesterday, item 4). Proceeding from Bernard’s Keane’s concluding rejection of the CPRS — a judgement with which I now agree, though I was still not decided when I put my book Crunch Time to bed nine months ago — what is the best alternative market mechanism to get CO2 emissions down?

Quite obviously now,  it is James Hansen’s model of a carbon tax:  a simple national tax on calculated carbon dioxide emissions, levied once only on entry into the national economy of all carbon-burning fuels, either at the mine or wellhead or port of entry, and refunded immediately and in full to all Australian citizens or permanent residents on an equitable per capita basis (which, incidentally,  means it could not credibly be criticised by Tony Abbott as “a big new tax”).

The over-complex and industry-corrupted CPRS was a folly, it is now clear in retrospect. A Hansen-model carbon tax would be simple, transparent, corruption and special-interest proof, and would have the desired impact of creating real  and quick-acting economic market incentives for reduced carbon emissions practices and technologies,   throughout the production-consumption train. The rate could be varied according to society’s evaluation of the seriousness of the mounting climate crisis,  and how much it wants to spend on decarbonisation of the national economy; and whatever the rate, the proceeds would come straight back to consumers’ wallets.

It is not too late for Kevin Rudd to change trains on this. Let’s just admit it now, the CPRS, like coal carbon capture and storage and free batts, was bad climate crisis policymaking — more about expensive gesture politics than real decarbonisation. I see this clearly now — so should the Rudd government. We need a true decarbonisation policy in Australia — the climate crisis is not waiting for Labor’s election timetable.  Get on with it, Kevin.

Tamils:

Martin Gordon writes: Re. “Tamils vote for independence — and will vote against Labor”  (yesterday, item 5). Antony Lowenstein’s was an interesting read. Allowing for some Green posturing the Tamil community is small, but other aggrieved communities may feel equally strongly about the (more) cynical (than usual) Rudd asylum seeker fix. The rather inappropriately called Sri Lankan Freedom Party was once affiliated to Socialist International and through that to the Australian Labor Party. Biting a (sort of) affiliated party of a hated oppressor would be more than ironic.

John Kotsopoulos writes: I don’t know what the Tamils hope to achieve by voting against Labor.  The boat people issue is being inflamed by the Liberals and they are the ones who stand to benefit from this action.   A bit like a turkey voting for Christmas I suggest.

Billboard politics:

Peter Nevin writes: Re. “First Dog on the Moon” (yesterday, item 7).  Seeing First Dog’s reproduction of a billboard attacking Rudd on boat people in today’s edition was timely, as it followed on something that I had been wondering recently — what photos are likely to feature in this year’s attack ads?

If the billboard is anything to go with, the Libs might be in a bit of trouble on this score.  Even in the obligatory black and white with minor-key discordant backing music, you look at the Rudd picture and just end up thinking about Sideshow Alley.

Vulnerable people:

Justin Templer writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. In your editorial you write: “Looks like it’s back to the future with grubby politicking over some of the world’s most vulnerable people.”

In fact the world’s most vulnerable people are the children, the old and the infirm who will never have the money, health or connections to get themselves half way across the world.

Take the orphan child slowly dying of hunger and disease in a cesspool somewhere in Africa. Who is saving her? Certainly there is nothing on offer from the specious, hand-wringing debate we are enduring.

Tony Abbott:

Marcus L’Estrange writes: Re. “Abbott and no dole for the under 30s” “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits” (yesterday, item 11). Ah, Tony Abbott is at it again. Chasing after, “dog whistling”, the red neck, dole bludger vote. Just cannot help himself.

Abbott has missed the point that currently there are only a total of 5000 vacancies (adult and youth) in the mining industry and that the mining industry only employs 1.5% of the workforce. Hardly a massive number in order to work test the young unemployed.

Secondly, Mr. Abbott has form in bashing the least fortunate in society. In 2002, when he was Employment Minister, he called the unemployed “job snobs” for not looking even harder under rocks, park benches for non-existent jobs. More recently he called homelessness a lifestyle choice.

His mentor, the late and great Bob Santamaria firmly believed that the real unemployment figures showed that we had a real unemployment figure of 20% chasing about 100,000 vacancies or one job for every 20 plus unemployed.

Hoodies:

Miranda Murphy, The Australian Online, writes: Re. “Fashion advice for The Australian” “Media briefs: ACA jumps the gun on MasterChef … 2UE program boss aims for Sky … the really hard-hitting Q&A …” (yesterday, item 19).  We’re more anorak types here at The Australian Online but even we know that use of the term ‘hoodie’ has been extended to refer to a type of person wearing one.

Kate Jackson writes: In the UK a hoodie is also slang for the person wearing the piece of clothing, so The Oz is actually correct in their usage. The term “hoodie” received widespread coverage in 2006 when David Cameron rejected suggestions he wanted people to “hug a hoodie” after calling for more understanding of why young people commit crime. See this BBC story for more. It’s minor detail, but hug a hoodie got loads of coverage while I was living in the UK.

Pedant’s postage stamp:

Chris Harrison writes:  No, Chris Owens (yesterday, comments), maintain the rage. I pointed out the incorrect use of  “for free” instead of the proper “free”.  I was criticised by some and supported by others (Crikey 11 November 2009). It’s you, Don Watson and me against the world!

Climate change:

Tamas Calderwood writes: Re:  “Climate pledges fall short” “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits” (yesterday, item 11). I love it.  The supernova of climate “science” is entering its collapse-into-a-black-hole phase while expelling its outer layers of dodgy data, sloppy statistics and, oh, this pesky 12 year cooling trend that 95% of climate models failed to predict, yet Richard Farmer cheerily peddles some new German predictions (climate “science” is all about predictions) of temperatures soaring 3C by 2100.

Well, what a bunch of climate-hysteria loafers those Krauts are.  I mean, 3C?  Pathetic.  I thought we were tracking for at least 5C in the climate-scare game!

Meanwhile, out here in the real world, it is calculated that if the Earth had no atmosphere and were a black lump of rock at its current distance from the Sun, it would be just 8C cooler than it is now.  So the entire atmospheric and ocean system adds just 8C to our average temperature.  Yet a bunch of guys with computer models say that eking up the amount of CO2 in this system from its current 0.038% to, say, 0.045% will crank temperatures up another 3C and BOOM!… Thermageddon.

Give. Me. A. Break.

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23 comments

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23 thoughts on “When Anzac Day is unAustralian

  1. Justin

    @Chris & @Zut:

    The language you cite is not incorrect, improper, clumsy or in any way poor grammar or a result of ill-education. I really think you should go and read something about language change before you claim to know anything about grammar and go about mischaracterising Don Watson’s position. Your rage is misplaced and counterproductive.

    A good start is wikipedia, which you can access here for free:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_change
    The braver reader could head to the “Prescriptivist Poppycock” section of Language Log, which collects examples of similar self-appointed arbiters of “proper” “grammar”. Again, for absolute free:
    http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?cat=5

    And my favourite quote about this kind of pointless prescriptivist pedantry:

    ‘Some older citizens welcome the new music and dances, the new electronic devices and computers. But no one has ever been heard to say, “It’s wonderful the way young people talk today. Its so much better than the way we talked when I was a kid.”‘
    Labov, W. (2001) Principles of Linguistic Change. Volume 2: Social Factors. Malden, Mass./Oxford: Blackwell. 6.

  2. Leo Braun

    b>”When Anzac Day is unAustralian”? Evidently, keenly debated aspects of this question (raised in this thread) were tackled by now!

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