Nobody likes a dobber
James Burke writes: Re. “Turnbull dobbed in sacked SBS reporter over Anzac tweets” (yesterday). I don’t know Scott McIntyre’s political views beyond those tweets. But anyone serious about history will have considered at some point the issues he’s raised. We might not agree with him, or adopt such extreme positions (or we might outgrow them) and we might not voice them so crudely. Still, these are questions that need to be asked about Australia’s wars and they won’t be answered with myth enforced by censorship.
McIntyre’s sacking was inevitable. Plenty of public servants have been sacked for less by this government, like the scientists targeted for being, well, scientists. It should be followed by the sacking of Tim Wilson. His office as Human Rights Commissioner is supposed to defend individual freedoms, but in entering the fray he has appointed himself an arbiter of what constitutes offensive speech, a concept whose very legal basis he previously questioned. In the most generous reading, Wilson is incompetent in his role. If the Abbott Government is serious about reducing budget waste, I know an easy $300,000+ of taxpayer’s money they can save.
On medals and Anzac
Peter Wotton writes: Re. “Rundle: on Anzac Day in Dublin and a cause worth dying for” (yesterday). Did Rundle get it wrong with his comment that your own medals are worn over your heart on the right side? I had always understood that your own medals belonged on the left side and those of others went on the right.
Clearing up small details
Don Wormald writes: Re. “On McMahon and voting ages” (yesterday). Malcolm Farnsworth is quite correct and I was wrong in asserting 18-year-olds got the vote in 1972 as a bit of research reveals. I can only plead my advancing dotage and a faulty memory. It seems I voted first in 1974. However, the conversation with my uncle did take place in the terms stated and it was upon that basis I wrote the piece. Obviously more than just my own memory was fallible. The comment about McMahon’s character is a tad harsh considering it was McMahon who announced in August 1971 the pull out of the last Australian troops from Vietnam — something that has oft been attributed to Whitlam. I suspect it was this my uncle was referring to when he suggested McMahon was having trouble with his conscience. Suitably chastened I now know to do my research and not rely upon my ageing memory.
On Rundle on Gallipoli
Robin Prior writes: Re. “Rundle: the guns of August, the landing at Gallipoli, and the complicated reasoning of WWI” (Friday). What a nostalgic journey Rundle on Gallipoli was. I hadn’t read a hard line Marxist approach to the First World War and to the Middle East in particular since my undergraduate days. Eric Hobsbawm would be over the moon to see this stuff recycled 50 years later. By the way, there have been a few new interpretations since 1968. I can provide a reading list.