Saturday 23rd of October 2021

arming the scoundrels with lamb chops...


The seeming impossibility of salvaging Australia Day led many nationalists to pin their commemorative hopes on the always more popular Anzac Day. “Throughout the 1980s,” writes McKenna, “as Australia Day became a lightning rod for historical and political disputes, Anzac Day came to be seen as a less complicated and less divisive alternative.”

As early as 1967, Murdoch’s Australian newspaper noted the “crippling artificiality” of Australia Day and contrasted it with the Anzac celebration, which, it said, “expresses, as no other day or symbol can, something that we understand and nobody else can”.

In 1981, the same paper asked bluntly: “[Should we] give up trying to make Australia Day our national day in favour of Anzac Day?”

Yet Anzac Day had problems of its own.

In 1966, 20 women from the anti-war group Save Our Sons stood in front of the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance on Anzac Day holding posies inscribed with the slogan: “Honour the dead with peace.” After police were summoned, the women were told they could lay their wreaths – but only if they removed all reference to “peace”.

Not surprisingly, the growth of a campaign dedicated to peace in Vietnam corresponded with a decline in enthusiasm for an anniversary in which peace was considered offensive.

In 1969, the Age reported that Anzac Day had met with a “cool reception” with observers almost outnumbering participants; young people in particular were “noticeably sparse”. In 1973, the ALP national conference even discussed the desirability of replacing the Anzac ceremony with a “Day of Peace”.

In 1981, a group called Women Against Rape attempted to march in Canberra on Anzac Day to highlight the consequence of war for women. In response, Sir William Keys, the Returned and Services League (RSL) national president, denounced “feminist group[s] whose ultimate purpose was to bring changes into Australia’s social and political systems by debasing and degrading its great traditions”.

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polishing a terrible fiasco...


John Menadue calls for an end to the commercialisation of Gallipoli and Anzac, to put the drums and bugles away, and to stop and think about what we are doing. 

IF WE feel overwhelmed by the crass commercialism of Gallipoli and Anzac, take a deep breath because there are three years to go.

Target has sponsored “Camp Gallipoli”, Woolworths has asked us to “Keep Fresh in our Memories” the losses of Gallipoli; VB depicted for us actors on the steps of the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance who  tell us to bow our heads and raise a glass of VB in memory of the first Australians who charged and died at Gallipoli.

There have been endless advertising and sales of Gallipoli kitsch. Even our Governor General a few years ago fronted at the hotel bar for VB to raise a glass and money for veterans.

But the slipping TV ratings suggest we are getting tired of the saturation media coverage and the $400 m spent by the Australian Government on a whole range of Anzac “educational” programs.

When the myth making all started in 1915 Charles Bean, the official military historian carefully burnished the Anzac myth. Soldiers were strong, adaptable, cheerful, laid-back, but faithfully serving the empire.

Not for Bean the harsh realities of war unless they were laced with humour. He didn’t tell us much about the fear, desertion or boredom of soldiers far from home or the horror of it all. He was gilding the lily about the terrible nature of the war in which young Australians were killing and being killed.

We are told endlessly about how Australians fought in WWI. We are never really asked the very important question of why we fought — in the interests of Britain’s colonial and economic interests, including access to oil in the Middle East for Britain’s navy.

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keeping-up appearances ...

Yes Gus, seems at times like Team Australia is enjoying an "ANZAC-lead" recovery ... even the bigoted hoons from Reclaim Australia festoon themselves with poppies these days ...

But back to the cost of lamb chops  ...

from Honest History …

Australia’s projected spend on the Anzac centenary-century of service now stands at an estimated $561.8 million, following an announcement today of a $10 million donation by Rio Tinto to the Anzac Centenary Public Fund. Anzac centenary minister, Stuart Robert, said:

As a proud Australian company Rio Tinto has thrown its support behind the Anzac Centenary with a very generous $10 million donation that will help support a range of community activities, events, memorials and educational partnerships.

Honest History’s detailed estimates of the commemoration spend have become accepted as authoritative – they certainly have not been contested by Australian Government spokespersons.

The $561.8 million includes $331.3 million from the Australian Government, $140.5 million from the States and Territories and now $90 million from corporates.

Australia’s commemoration spend is many times bigger than that by any other single country and probably outstrips the spending of all other countries combined. The Minister recently announced (when everyone had knocked off, two days before Christmas) the awarding of the construction contract for one of the big ticket items, the $100 million Monash Interpretive Centre in Villers-Bretonneux, France (the Picardy boondoggle).

Rio Tinto Limited is technically an ‘Australian company’ but the headquarters of Rio Tinto Group is in London and it is a massive operation. Without wanting to encourage Rio Tinto to kick in more to the commemoration tin, Honest History notes that the group’s revenue in 2014 was $US 48 billion and group profits $US 6.5 billion. Ten million Australian dollars for ‘community activities, events, memorials and educational partnerships’ is about 0.1 per cent of that profit figure. Small change given a khaki tinge.

Kaching! Australia’s Anzac centenary spend hits $A562 million

lamb to the slaughter parody...


An animal rights organisation has defended using a clip from Meat & Livestock Australia’s controversial Australia Day lamb advertisement in its own video, which shows graphic footage of a slaughterhouse.

MLA has demanded the not-for-profit organisation Aussie Farms take down its parody, which highlights sheep being slaughtered without being properly stunned.

The footage was taken at the Gathercoles slaughterhouse in Wangaratta, Victoria, in mid-2014 by secret cameras.

Aussie Farms posted the video, which opens with seven seconds of footage of the television personality Lee Lin Chin from MLA’s “Operation Boomerang” ad, on its Facebook page on Tuesday.

It was also posted to the organisation’s Vimeo Pro account, under the headline “Hilarious behind the scenes clip from the new Aus Day Lamb ad”.

The Aussie Farms executive director, Chris Delforce, said MLA had issued it with a take-down notice on Thursday night, claiming the use of the ad was in breach of copyright.

He said on Facebook that the threat of legal action showed “MLA are clearly embarrassed by this video”, which had been viewed more than 15,000 times in three days.


The real sound effects sound a bit like war... I believe the lambs are slaughtered halal style...


vegan to the s-laughter parody


Former North Melbourne Kangaroos footballer Sam Kekovich, the face of the Australia Day lamb ad, challenged vegans to try lamb and “get a life” during a live interview with David Koch on Channel 7’s Sunrise.

No one could have imagined the embarrassing news that would follow.

More than 600 complaints have been lodged with the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) by individuals and organisations mainly offended with the attack on vegans in the ad, which shows highly militarised ‘special Australia Day agents’ blowtorching a bowl of vegan-friendly kale and rescuing an Australian ex-pat in time for an Australia Day barbecue.

“This campaign, let me tell you, has been overwhelmingly well received by all the establishing holders, including the consumers, the red meat industry and every one else associated with it. The vegans need to get a life.” said Mr Kekovich.

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This is in reference to the lamb cutlet advert... for Orstralya day.


split the deads...

Historians are demanding UK citizens be allowed to attend centenary commemorations of the Battle of Fromelles, a WWI military disaster considered by many the worst moment in Australian history.

British relatives of fallen soldiers are furious only Australian passport holders will be allowed to attend this year's service, with some stating the UK's contribution to the ill-fated offensive is being airbrushed from history.

"Excluding the British says somehow this is an exclusively Australian battle," historian Andrew Robertshaw said.

"The Western Front has always been about taking and holding land and this shows it's still going on today."

On 19 July 1916, waves of fit young men were cut to ribbons by machine gun fire, as they charged towards a German stronghold in a bid to divert enemy forces from the main battlefield on the Somme.

One senior Brigadier called it a "tactical abortion", while another officer said it looked like the "stock of a thousand butcher-shops" had been cut "into small pieces" and strewn about.

In 24 hours, Australia suffered 5,533 casualties, more than the Boer, Korean and Vietnam wars combined.

The United Kingdom lost 1,547.

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The solution for the idiots in Canberra is to split the difference... Should they send 100 Aussies with passport, they should allow 27.95 Brits to share in the celebrations of the stupidity of war...

lest we forget sponsorship...

While the defence force end-users wait for delivery, JSF manufacturers Lockheed Martin and its associates around the world are the immediate beneficiaries. Love the Alliance, love Lockheed Martin.*

More recently, Sarah Dingle presented a painstaking Background Briefing on the ABC on the problems attending the JSF, including interviews with defence experts, some of them sounding rather grumpy. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a transcript. To make up for that lack, First Dog on the Moon’s take on the project is linked here without further editorial comment.

*Lest we forget, Lockheed Martin has become an important donor to the Australian War Memorial in recent years, giving more than $A50 000 in 2014-15 and being listed as a major sponsor in 2013-14, as is shown in the Memorial’s annual reports. The firm’s generosity is noted in annual report entries by the Memorial’s Chair and Director. Lockheed Martin’s logo has featured in a continuous loop display of sponsors’ logoes installed in August 2014 next to the reception desk at the Memorial. The donations of such companies to commemorative institutions are small change compared with their turnover – Lockheed Martin world-wide sales in 2014 were worth $US45.6 billion – but they are clearly welcomed by the Memorial. The connection between arms donors and war memorials is a worthy subject for research.

David Stephens

10 March 2016 updated


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monuments to the glory of war, not to the value of peace...

The picture to the right is of a newish Australian War Memorial advertisement at Canberra Airport. There is one in both the Qantas and Virgin Australia arrival areas. The advertisement has a lovely picture of the Memorial at night, with the slogan, 'For we are young and free'. and, bottom left, the words ‘proudly supported by Northrop Grumman’

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See image at top... Of course, the sponsors of monuments are the agents of war for the glory of war, not the instruments of peace...

without wars and weapons, there would be no veterans...


The War Memorial is about honouring the sacrifice of Australians who died at war, not advertising for arms suppliers who profit from it, writes John Menadue

I ASKED THE DIRECTOR of the Australian War Memorial (AWM),Brendan Nelson, why the Memorial is accepting funding from weapons manufacturers like BAE Systems,BoeingLockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman

In response, Brendan Nelson wrote back:

'We regard it as entirely appropriate that defence contractors support the Memorial in its mission.'

It is difficult to see how Brendan Nelson can maintain that position when the AWM says in its founding documents:

'The Memorial’s purpose is to commemorate the sacrifice of those Australians who have died in war.'

Arms dealers like BAE Systems are SPONSORS of the Australian War Memorial. More #wars can then perpetuate more museums !!#AustralianValues

— Della Louise (@share_wa) April 20, 2017

Its mission is to assist Australians:

' … to remember, interpret and understand the Australian experience of war and its enduring impact on Australian society.'

Accepting funding from arms manufacturers who profit from war, and allowing them to have theatres named after them, is vastly different to commemorating "the sacrifice of those Australians who have died in war". It is accepting funds from those who profit from war.

Pope Francis put the issue very clearly on 24 May 2017 after his meeting with President Trump.

He said:

“It’s hypocritical to speak of peace while funding the arms trade, which only serves the merchants of death, exacerbating wars, not fought to solve a problem, but to benefit the weapons industry.”

Pope Francis called for:

“The elimination of the arms trade.”

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the war memorial does its own impression of bombing gallipoli...

"You came here but your return was disastrous"

"You are in my country now, behave!"

"Don't ever think of invading us again"

"You can't go around half naked among martyrs, have some respect!"

"May God curse those who attack us"

"F**king infidels!"

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a memory syndrome...

What is the Proust Syndrome? who knows. I just made this name up. But "my mate" Oliver Sachs can explain:

The psychoanalyst Ernest Schachtel, speaking of Proust, saw him as “ready to renounce all that people usually consider an active life, to renounce activity, enjoyment of the present moment, concern with the future, friendship, social intercourse” in the hunt for the “remembrance of things past”.

As Anzac day is looming and all real Anzacs are dead, may as well call it quits.
But after this war where people were sent to death as fodder like old useless sheets of paper into a shredding machine, we still have more wars to account for, all of them with quite dismal follow-on. Even with the victory of of WW2, no real lesson about anything was learnt, except “not to forget about the past”, which is a Proust Syndrome, as we participate in and plan for future wars of the same sauce — not peace.
the doco “Where to Invade Next” by Michael Moore, already ancient by TV modern standards since it was released in 2015, is telling and funny. Moore tells us how since WW2, all the wars fought by the Pentagon have gone apeshit (true) and how he got hired to solve this problem (false).

Memory is a funny thing and I trust that the death of the Anzacs were not in vain, but our present morons in charge of the future still have not buckled up in their empty heads. Their psychopathic brains is in deceitful lalaland, but not only they deceive us, they deceive themselves as well.
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selective remembrance...

A decision to ban the Aboriginal flag and other forms of recognition from Anzac Day services in Western Australia (WA) has sparked widespread backlash.

Each year, solemn ceremonies are held on 25 April in Australia and New Zealand to commemorate veterans and soldiers.

But a veterans' organisation said it would no longer allow Aboriginal displays at its services in the state.

It added that all content, except the NZ anthem, must be in English.

The Returned Service League (RSL) has previously been criticised for ignoring and diminishing the service of Aboriginal soldiers in World War One and other conflicts.

The decision follows a move last year where the Ode of Remembrance was read at a ceremony in an Aboriginal language, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

Critics, among them indigenous and non-indigenous lawmakers, have called the move "offensive" and demanded it be reversed.


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the past to the next mistake...


by  Kellie Merritt


The past month or two has brought back some imagery that’s haunted me for some time. Images that were part of footage taken by insurgents of my husbands smouldering crash site. It featured on news channels being watched in lounge rooms across the world well before any military official had the chance to even get to my front door.


The conventional ‘door knocking’ training manual, how to inform next of kin of the death of their loved one,  was obsolete. So the first conversation in which I was told Paul was missing and presumed dead, I was also asked to be prepared for further propaganda and recruitment footage, which may feature body parts as souvenirs and other desecration activity. I was then told, securing the site and retrieving the bodies was the highest priority. I was quite aware at how profoundly painful delivering this news must have been and how sensitively it was delivered.

Months later, while in a military chat room, following up some issues of the inquiry, I came across a link to the original and unedited footage being sold on eBay. Go figure? It disturbed and distressed me. Does anything go in modern warfare? It’s not a stretch to then feel nothing less than shame and sadness to learn that Australian special forces have allegedly murdered, desecrated and collected human trophies of civilian Afghans.

As far as theatres of war go the ‘war on terror’ genre has been perplexing, persistent and painful to stage and execute. Like most long running productions, there have been plenty of challenges. Maintaining the actors’ endurance and the audience’s appetite has been difficult. The tale of contemporary war fighting almost always seems to have a flawed, shifting and lazy political storyline. None of the 6 directors – Howard, Rudd, Gillard, Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison-  overseeing this sad saga, have bothered with good script writing, proofreading or editing. Costs in marketing have seen sentimentality rocket and truth plummet. So as the curtain falls on the twenty year war in Afghanistan, we should suspend our rush for patriotic applause and red carpet victory parades. What our frontline ADF and veterans need more than any encore, is respite and quiet respect.

For far too long we have been bludging on the blindside of this far too long war. Enthusiastically shoe horning, another feel good war narrative into our personalised digger boots. The modern narrative of the individualistic warrior, alongside the traditional narrative of freedom and mateship, was meant to bring a renewed skip to our stride. But for all the  ‘feel good’ rhetoric, something doesn’t feel quite right. The individual warrior narrative with all its bravado still makes me feel a little limp.  I think the expectation of admiring our veterans has become an expectation that we adore them. We fall short of expecting standards, of ourselves, our politicians and our military. Has the act of commemoration become a bit too big for its boots? Roy Slaven and HG Nelson would be calling for a stadium sized mirror room.

Making cultural sense of evolving war themes across time from Peter Weir’s Gallipoli, Tom Hanks, Band of Brothers, to Zack Snyder 300, to present something uniquely modern Australia, of the ‘now’ has been tasked to omnipresent publicist Kerry Stokes. Stokes was really impressed by the visual and physical intensity of 300, didn’t connect with the quality of friendships in Band of Brothers and unconvinced by the tension of innocence and futile brutality of Gallipoli. He has come up with a kind of Mate vs Mate state of origin for soldiers. Where the reputation of one warrior against many heroes and the values of their units, battle for truth, courage and honour,  is acted out directly inside the war memorial.

The award winning ANZAC hall will be torn down, in a luxury indulgence of cheap patriotism and replaced with a glorious glassed in amphitheatre. This is where the ‘new now’ show really kicks off. Narrated by a self-named Spartan, of the land, air and sea waves, Alan Jones. Jones is unlikely to ask, how did the avant garde style of soldiering, the perpetual rotation of small elites, become the political go-to solution for all things in Afghanistan. Was it legitimate to normalise and over extend this skill set?  Did this decision marginalise other conventional forces and diplomatic options?

Not many political leaders have taken on the challenge of telling a tale that is nuanced, complex and different to our American allies. The original plot line of Afghanistan was undermining the Taliban’s grip on power and ability to provide safety for Al-Qaeda was achieved early. Then compromised as military resources and political rhetoric shifted to the war in Iraq. Maybe we do live in a safer world. Nation building and the rights of women and  girls are noble causes, but at what cost? 175,000 Afghans have been killed and the country has been ravaged by years of war and occupation. 41 Australian troops have died and countless continue to suffer from post-traumatic stress injury. And when Afghan people seek asylum what story will we remember, the victims of an oppressive regime or terrorists wanting to do us harm? All we have to show is an unstable puppet regime in Kabul, with the rest of the country still mostly controlled by the Taliban.

In Biden’s presidential address announcing the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan he said “Rather than return to war with the Taliban, we have to focus on the challenges that are in front of us. We have to shore up American competitiveness to face the stiff competition from an increasingly assured China.”

It’s likely that the US will want Australia again to follow along with them as they engage in the next war, this time maybe with China. So before you lift out your Anzac Day TV week gold Logie special edition, consider what the history channel has on offer. There is so much we need to learn from Afghanistan, the war on terror, what we want soldiering to look like in the 21st century and how political passivity paves the way for disastrous outcomes in foreign theatres of war.

In the words of Roy and HG “It’s time to bump, it’s time to thump, it’s time to dump and pack down for some serious midfield mayhem,” it’s up to all of us to off load the sensational but simple story and look behind the curtain at who really benefits from our foreign policy and engagement in war.


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See also: weapon pandemic...