Sunday, October 20, 2013


God help us. As if bushfires weren't bad enough, Australia is about to be engulfed by a tsunami of militarism and faux patriotism. No one, and no expense, will be spared. Resistance, as they say, is futile. So gird your loins for wall-to-wall jaw-jaw about war-war.

The following extracts, which focus mainly on the funding angle, are from Paul Daley's timely essay in the The Guardian, Australia spares no expense as the Anzac legend nears its century (15/10/13):

"Australia's reverence for all things Anzac has for decades now been quarantined from the fierce political and cultural battles that have flared over other aspects of Australian history. So perhaps it is not surprising that even after the recent change of federal government, Australia's 'Anzackery' - as some dissenting historians now refer to the obsession with Anzac myth and legend - continues with unwavering bipartisan political indulgence.

"Consistent with such bipartisanship, the Abbott government is honouring - and even slightly increasing - Labor's $140m-plus funding commitment to Australia's first world war centenary commemorations in 2014. Before the coming federal budget, spending on Anzac commemorations is one thing, it seems, with guaranteed immunity from the threat of across-the-board cuts to other cultural programs in a range of portfolios. The $140m-plus in federal funding for the first world war centenary will be supplemented by the Anzac centenary public fund, which aims to collect corporate donations.


"Ken Inglis, the author of Sacred Places: War Memorials in the Australian Landscape, pointed out Anzac had become a 'secular religion' for Australians. Maybe this is why the Anzac Centenary Advisory Board, now overseeing commemoration planning, strikes such an ecclesiastic tone to explain its determination 'to ensure that the Anzac centenary is marked in a way that captures the spirit and reverence it so deserves and that the baton of remembrance is passed on to this and future generations.'

"Some Australian spending ($32m to upgrade the first world war galleries at the Australian War Memorial) mirrors that in the UK... but a fundamental of Australia's commemoration is the $100,000 that Labor granted to each of the 150 federal electorates for community commemoration projects.

"A spokesman for Senator Michael Ronaldson, who holds the newly-created portfolio of minister assisting the prime minister for the centenary of Anzac, confirmed that, consistent with its election pledge, the Coalition will increase that amount by $25,000 per electorate 'to support grassroots commemorative activities to ensure that all Australians, no matter where they live, can participate in this important period of national commemoration.'

"The spokesman confirmed the Abbott government will meet all of Labor's centenary spending and programme commitments... The auditors may sigh at how the $18.75m on electorate-by-electorate spending will be reconciled... Australia's centenary spending will include: $8.1m on restoring memorials and graves; $6.1m on an Anzac interpretive centre; $3.4m on an Anzac community portal to share Anzac stories; $4.7m on an Anzac arts and culture fund; $14.4m on overseas commemoration services; $2.8m on a televised re-enactment of the first troop ships to sail from Albany in Western Australia; $10m on an Anzac centenary travelling exhibition and $10.4m to support the work of the Anzac centenary advisory board.

"It's an awful lot of money."


Anonymous said...

Paul Daley quoted here this week launched a website for Honest History, a loose coalition of historians and others (300 plus people and growing rapidly)supporting the balanced and honest presentation and use of history during the centenary of WWI. See David Stephens

MERC said...

Excellent idea, and thanks for letting me know about it.