The usual backbench suspects have now formed the Monash Forum as a ginger group apparently with the aim of protecting the coal industry. Liberal Craig Kelly stated that the group’s manifesto was not inconsistent with the Turnbull’s seemingly dead in the water National Energy Guarantee1.
This group seem to have a number of personnel in common with the Monkey Pod Group, a group of mostly far right religious nutters who congealed around Tony Abbott to help him cope with the blue funk engendered by his dumping as Prime Minister2. The current members of the Monash Forum seem to include, unsurprisingly, Abbott, Eric Abetz, Kevin Andrews, Ian Goodenough, George Christensen and likely Barnaby Joyce and Craig Kelly himself. It was Christensen who invited Nationals MPs to join a group “encouraging the government in the promotion and facilitation of and/or construction of coal-fired power stations”1.
The group is named after General Sir John Monash (1865-1931). They apparently selected his name because of his role as the first head of the State Electricity Commission of Victoria and his drive in developing the brown coal power industry in the state3. As a general during the First World War, Monash eventually became the commander of the Australian Corps, which at that time (May 1918) was the largest corps on the western front4
According to British historian A.J.P. Taylor, John Monash was “the only general of creative originality produced by the First World War”, and he was also well regarded by British historian Sir Basil Liddell-Hart and praised by British Prime Minister David Lloyd George5. Indeed, Liddell-Hart, in his obituary of Monash from 1931 said “he had probably the greatest capacity for command in modern war among all those who held command [in the 1914-18 war]”6.
Monash was a meticulous planner and his planning of the Battle of Hamel (July 4, 1918) was extraordinarily successful with its coordinated use of all arms: infantry, artillery, tanks and aircraft. The planning was so meticulous that during the battle, Monash had even arranged for the delivery of hot meals to the front line4. It was Monash who also planned the Battle of Amiens which was launched on August 8, 1918 and spearheaded by the Australian Corps. The battle was one of the most significant and decisive victories for the allies in the war, and was so devastating for the German Army, that its commander, Ludendorff, described it as “the black day of the German Army in the history of the war”4.
Monash was also different in that he promoted the concept that the commander’s duty was to ensure the safety and well-being of his troops, given that they were engaged in a war4. He was also a humble man, who, despite all his achievements, honours and titles, instructed that his headstone simply bear his name ‘John Monash’.
It is ironic that the forum should choose the name Monash, as he, unlike most of the rabidly Christian members of the forum, was Jewish; he was a meticulous planner, which nobody, having seen his efforts as Prime Minister, could accuse Tony Abbott of being; he was concerned for his troops, unlike the Coalition government which seems intent on hammering our poorer citizens at every possible opportunity; he was also an innovator militarily, as demonstrated by his coordination of the arms in his planned battles, and his engineering, something alien to these Coalition luddites; he was also a humble man, unlike Abbott, who appears to be so narcissistic that he cannot forgive Turnbull for usurping his position as Prime Minister8.
Perhaps a more appropriate name for this group would be the White-ant Forum, for that is what it is mostly about: undermining Turnbull.