Anzac day, 2017

By April 26, 2017Australian Politics

I am always brought to tears on Anzac day when I watch some of the marches and see some of the old men, walking or being driven with their mates, their numbers rapidly dwindling. The tears are for my father, my uncles, cousins and their friends who suffered through the Second World War and its preamble, the Great Depression.

My father was in signals in Darwin, some of my uncles and cousins were in signals in Port Moresby, in Bomber Command in England, at Milne Bay, in Military Intelligence and the Japan occupation forces, RAAF flying boats (missing presumed killed), while friends of theirs were at Tobruk, Kokoda and on HMAS Perth (killed in action).

Despite having not known them all, I admired all these men whose lives had been upended and in some cases ended by the second great upheaval in the 20th century. Given what had been allowed to happen by appeasement in Europe, the Second World War was probably inevitable. These men did what was asked of them, and fought for their country. In that war, over 60 million people died. Of these, it is estimated that over 26 million were from the USSR, 20 million from China, 5.6 million from Poland, 5.3 million from Germany (including conscripts from Austria and eastern Europe), and 3.1 million from Japan. Australia lost just over 40,0001.

The totalitarian regimes they fought against commonly scapegoated people, imprisoning and often killing them either in gas chambers, by starvation or simple neglect. Millions died this way. These regimes imprisoned and often murdered their opposition. Many thousands died this way. These totalitarian regimes did not allow the free flow of information, which kept their population in the dark regarding their murderous depredations. They did not allow a free press and either destroyed them physically or brought them to heel. They simply told lies and told them often. They curried favour with wealthy industrialists and bankers because they needed the money and the wealthy curried favour with the regimes because the prosperity of their companies depended upon it. That was what brave, gentle, loving men fought against, and most, if not all of them knew that. I wish they were still here. It saddens me that they are not.

Now we have politicians in the Liberal National Coalition (LNC) who systematically lie to the population2, either with bald-faced lies3, or lying by omission4,5. Our politicians constantly keep us in the dark about ‘on-water matters’6. Our politicians imprison the people they scapegoat7 on Manus Island and Nauru. Our politicians constantly hammer the independent media over bias8,9. They have for 20 years attempted to bring the ABC to heel by underfunding it8, and now by installing a former Murdoch employee as its CEO and killing off its fact checking unit10.

While it is generally assumed that the first time someone on Twitter or Facebook makes a comparison with the Nazis, they have lost the argument, some parallels need to be drawn. While I doubt that Australians would ever vote in anyone who would suggest moving all Muslims or Jews to concentration camps, it is worth noting that we already have camps for asylum seekers. While it is unlikely that the Federal Government would ever attempt to attack and pillage the offices of the ABC, they have been attempting to mute its reporting, both by cutting its budget and installing a more compliant CEO. While I doubt that the LNC would ever simply imprison its opposition, it did conduct a ‘show trial’ of sorts with the Trade Union Royal Commission11. The LNC do curry favour with industrialists, miners and bankers, making sure that they pay as little tax as possible, while subsidising their businesses massively with taxpayers funds. Those businesses in turn donate money in the millions to the LNC, and to a considerable extent dictate policy.

This is the problem with democracy; it can be circumvented by those who want power and money, and look upon democracy as an impediment to obtaining it. For democracy to survive it needs constant vigilance and action. Democracy is not a spectator sport.




  • Wendy McLeod says:

    I agree with your comment ‘…I doubt that Australians would ever vote in anyone who would suggest moving all Muslims or Jews to concentration camps’, I feel the following needs to be said.
    As time goes by, and the suggestion has become fact, we are all complicit by our inactivity. No, we did not vote for detention centres. But they are there, and we will be judged by their existence, as the Germans are being judged now.

  • Jim Jago says:

    I agree with the comments on Anzac Day. As has been shown, at least in part, the First World War had a catastrophic effect on Australian Society, with over 60,000 killed and goodness knows how many physically and mentally scarred for life. The later includes the families, wives and girlfriends of the combatants. The effects of this were still being felt well into the 1950s. and 1960s. A lot of this was exacerbated by the Great Depression which for many people was a life changing event–my father often used to talk about it. It was also very divisive event in that if you had a regular job there was no real problem, if you did not, you were basically hung out to dry.

    One of the side effects of World War I was the very distinct catholic/protestant divide that was still present in the early 1950s when we lived in Melbourne. This would have always been there but the very prominent part played by Daniel Mannix in the second conscription referendum certainly was a factor, not to mention the very bitter nature of the debate. Oddly enough when we moved to a remote part of rural Tasmania in 1957, it was a much more tolerant society in terms of the catholic/protestant divide–presumably people simply had to pull together and get on with life. It had more or less disappeared by the middle of the 1960s.
    Although World War II was clearly a terrible event, and at an individual family level was disastrous, Australia came out of it reasonably well and much better than most of the European and Asian countries that were involved. I had an uncle that fought in New Guinea but he almost never spoke about it. In some ways the main outcome for Australia was the start of the major migration programme that is still continuing for better or for worse.
    One of the problems with both the Manus and Nauru centres is that neither of the major parties seems to have any sort of endgame. Whether one agrees or not with the stop the boats policy, the fact is that we are responsible for the people locked up in these camps. Clearly they cannot be left there forever–my guess is that at least some of them will wind up in Australia and at least some of these will be mentally disturbed–it would be surprising if they were not. We need to sort it out ASAP.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.