Our news pages

Here you will find general news items, Honest History making news, advice of forthcoming events relevant to Honest History or of general interest to Honest History supporters, Centenary Watch (monitoring events associated with the centenary of World War I) and

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Whitlam Institute seminar on foreign affairs, human rights and international law

The Whitlam Institute at Western Sydney University is holding a seminar on 21 November at the Institute, located at the Female Orphan School, Rydalmere. Speakers are Adam Hughes Henry, author of The Gatekeepers of Australian Foreign Policy 1950-1966, Honest History

The People’s Passion: Chorus of Women event for 11 November in Canberra

Canberra choir, A Chorus of Women, presents a new retelling of Glenda’s Cloughley’s community oratorio, A Passion for Peace, about the 1915 International Congress of Women and the founding of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. It is

Lists out for Most Underrated Book Award, Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism, Nikon-Walkley Awards for Excellence in Photojournalism, Walkley Documentary Award

This week was ‘lists week’ in the media. This is an area of particular interest to Honest History because, more than ever, journalism and small-run publications are presenting the first draft of history. First, the Small Press Network announced the

Honest History highlight: this perceptive analysis of Anzackery has particular South Australian resonance

Bernard Whimpress’s 2006 paper on ‘Creeping Anzacism’ has been on our site since 2013 (although we now have a version of it with footnotes, thanks to the author). We draw attention to the paper again for two reasons, first, because

A wide-angle lens on Great War commemoration: a German scholar speaks in Canberra

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Australian commemoration of war tends to be fairly parochial. We know much, much more about what Australians did in our wars (even when these actions had only marginal effect on war objectives) than about the broad sweep of these wars,

News from Fort Campbell ACT 2612: Charles Bean Western Front diaries launched; Remembrance Day peace demonstration stopped

Yesterday saw the launching of a volume of Charles Bean’s Western Front diary entries. Present at the Australian War Memorial were the Deputy Prime Minister, the editor of the volume, Peter Burness, Bean’s grand-daughter, Ms Anne Carroll, and the Memorial

Historian Clare Wright’s Canberra appearances, 17 October and 8 November

You Daughters of Freedom, a new book by distinguished historian Clare Wright, is to be published shortly by Text. Subtitled The Australians Who Won the Vote and Inspired the World, the book describes the struggle in the years 1902 to

Death of distinguished historian, Emeritus Professor John Molony

Honest History notes the death on 16 September of Emeritus Professor John Molony, distinguished historian across a wide range of subjects. He was 91 years of age. There is a notice in the Melbourne Age and in the Canberra Times.

$1,271,473.76 is the amount the Australian War Memorial admits receiving over three years in donations from military and defence firms

During Budget Estimates hearings, then Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon (NSW) asked Dr Brendan Nelson, Director of the Australian War Memorial, how much the Memorial had received in donations from military and defence firms. The answer covered the years 2015-16, 2016-17,

Which Bishop moves to represent the Queen?

News today that the current governor-general, Sir Peter Cosgrove – not ‘Sir Bill Cosby’, as a TV caption during the political crisis had him, but everyone was busy and the captioning robot wasn’t the only entity on autopilot – intends

Fathi, Romain: World politics explainer: the Great War (WWI)

Romain Fathi ‘World politics explainer: the Great War (WWI)‘, The Conversation, 3 September 2018 updated The article describes: the global conflict that was the Great War: the death toll of over ten million soldiers and six million civilians; the subsequent

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Christina Twomey (Honest History distinguished supporter) wins NSW Australian History Prize for her book The Battle Within

The Australian History Prize in the NSW Premier’s History Awards for 2018 has been awarded to Christina Twomey of Monash University for her book The Battle Within: POWs in Postwar Australia, published by NewSouth. Congratulations to Professor Twomey, who is

FORUM: Neutrality and war powers reform – paths to peace for Australia?: Wednesday, 26 September, Canberra

Honest History Vice President, Alison Broinowski, and Past President, Peter Stanley, are speaking at a Forum put on by IPAN, the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network. The topic is ‘Neutrality and war powers reform – paths to peace for Australia?’

Growing up in Australia 1901-39: PhD candidate Emily Gallagher on the lookout for evidence; can you help?

Emily Gallagher is doing a PhD at ANU on the history of play and folklore in Australia over the years 1901-39. The era of ‘What’s the time, Mr Wolf?’ and ‘Drop the hanky’ and much more besides. Pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey c. 1916

Australia’s wars behind the khaki gloss: Peter Monteath’s new book to be launched at National Library

We are always seeing books telling ‘previously untold’ stories about our wars. This one deserves the description more than most: Peter Monteath’s Captured Lives: Australia’s Wartime Internment Camps, from NLA Publishing. The author will be giving a lecture (NLA fourth floor

History and its use and abuse in politics: Canberra workshop coming up, 5 September (and audio of Chris Uhlmann lecture)

Funnily enough, given the deja vu-ness of this week’s events in Canberra, some experts are getting together on 5 September to look at the use and abuse of history in the political process. Details are here. Speakers include Honest History

Guilt and hagiography: Bongiorno and Stanley quoted on Brendan Nelson and Ben Roberts-Smith

Michael Bachelard, Fairfax investigative reporter, has a piece today quoting, among others, Honest History president, Frank Bongiorno, and past-president, Peter Stanley, on the inappropriateness of recent comments by War Memorial Director, Brendan Nelson, regarding the investigation into Ben Roberts-Smith VC.

Congratulations to Meredith Lake, 2018 Australian Christian Book of the Year for The Bible in Australia

This award was announced today in Books and Publishing. Douglas Hynd reviewed the book for Honest History. We thought the cover was pretty good, also. 17 August 2018

Honest History at 5 years: a symposium, 8 November, ANU, Canberra: ‘presenting, choosing, measuring, changing history’

‘Presenting, choosing, measuring, changing history’ An Honest History symposium in conjunction with the Australian National University, Law Lecture Theatre, ANU, Canberra, Thursday, 8 November 2018 With Frank Bongiorno, Michael Brissenden, Alison Broinowski, Pamela Burton, Michael Cooney, Shaun Crowe, Paul Daley,

Don’t forget Best We Forget: important Canberra literary event this Sunday at Muse Kingston

Honest History president and ANU History head of school, Professor Frank Bongiorno, is in conversation with Peter Cochrane, author of the recently published Best We Forget: The War for White Australia, 1914-18. The event is at Muse Kingston at 3

Professional Historians Association National Conference is on in Sydney, 30-31 August

Australia’s professional historians are conferencing in Sydney at the end of this month (State Library of NSW) and the details are here. It’s on at the same time as the NSW Premier’s History Awards. The conference topic is ‘Marking Time’,

Stephens, David: Australian War Memorial consults the public on mooted massive extensions: is anything ‘sacred’?

David Stephens* ‘Australian War Memorial consults the public on mooted massive extensions: is anything “sacred”?’, Honest History, 3 August 2018 updated The Australian War Memorial has been talking for more than a year about its desire to extend its building

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New Zealand joins nuclear ban treaty; Australia remains opposed

Here is a media statement from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, noting the agreement by New Zealand to the United Nations treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons. While Australia has joined treaties banning chemical weapons, biological weapons, landmines and

Three diary dates: Jeffrey Grey book Canberra launch; Griffith Review 61 Canberra launch; Peter Cochrane at Brisbane Writers Festival on World War I as a war for White Australia

Jeff Grey: A Life in History, launch, 4.30 – 6.00 pm, Thursday, 2 August, UNSW Canberra; register Griffith Review 61: Who We Are launch, 3–4 pm, Sunday, 5 August, Muse, Kingston, Canberra; $12 (tickets available here) Peter Cochrane talks about

Margaret Macmillan Reith Lectures 2018 ‘The Mark of Cain’: on war and humanity

The 2018 Reith lectures by distinguished Canadian historian, Professor Margaret Macmillan, can be found on the BBC site, in audio and transcript. The series has the overall title ‘The Mark of Cain’ and the first four lectures are titled ‘War

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Gullibility on steroids? An Australian precedent for politicians believing – or pretending to believe – what Moscow tells them

We posted this in February 2017 in response to a previous protestation by President Trump about what the Russians had been doing and when they had been doing it. It’s well worth running again. Update 20 July 2018: the story

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Looking forward and Lest We Forget: two thought-provoking contributions for NAIDOC Week 2018

ABC RN Breakfast this morning had a NAIDOC Week discussion between presenter Hamish Macdonald and four Indigenous Australians, Mikaela Jade (story-telling technology entrepreneur), Evelyn Araluen (poet and Indigenous literature researcher), Kris Rallah-Baker (opthalmologist), and Ben Abbatangelo (education mentor). Well worth

Dunera Lives is well and truly launched: speeches by Frank Bongiorno in Canberra and Raimond Gaita in Melbourne

Dunera Lives: A Visual History was launched in Canberra on 4 July by Frank Bongiorno and in Melbourne on 8 and 9 July by Raimond Gaita. Frank Bongiorno’s speech and Raimond Gaita’s speech, both by courtesy of the authors. David

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Catching up with the Australian Historical Association Conference 2018: Yvonne Perkins aka perkinsy tweeted it as it happened

If you missed the AHA Conference last week in Canberra (or couldn’t afford it) then ace blogger Yvonne Perkins tweeted up a storm here, keeping track of the event as it happened. Yvonne also blogs at Stumbling through the Past

Bean counted in: new ACT federal electorate to be named after Charles Bean

After due process for federal electorate redistribution in the ACT, the new third seat is to be named after Charles Bean, war correspondent and war historian. Announcement from the Australian Electoral Commission. Fairfax story. Michelle Grattan in The Conversation. Honest

Avoiding entertainment and including a warning to youngsters, the War Memorial does the Battle of Hamel all over again – virtually and immersively

Update 3 July 2018: I saw the Hamel show today and was pleasantly surprised. Despite some moderately lurid advertising, this is a sober presentation. It offers a brief outline of World War I, a summary of General Monash’s plans, and

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Winter mind food in Canberra: three events for the diary

The Australian Historical Association’s annual conference is on in Canberra early in July and there are some sessions 3-6 July open to the public, including ones about the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Trove, animals, forests, the anthropocene, objects, migration, and

Chris Uhlmann: Manning Clark Lecture, Canberra, 12 July: Secret City: fact, fiction and Australian politics

Channel 9’s Chris Uhlmann will deliver the 19th Manning Clark Lecture at the ANU, Canberra, on 12 July at 7 pm. The title of the lecture is ‘Secret City: fact, fiction and Australian politics’. Details and booking arrangements. 16 June

ANU not to hook up with Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation

Update 5 July 2018: Frank Bongiorno talks to Phillip Adams on Late Night Live. Update 26 June 2018: Geoffrey Blainey and Simon Haines weigh in for Western civilisation. Warwick Anderson, Frank Bongiorno and Gareth Evans and Brian Schmidt put the

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Honest History President Frank Bongiorno talks to Richard Denniss about commemoration, memory and donations to the War Memorial

Honest History President, Professor Frank Bongiorno of the ANU, talks to Richard Denniss, economist from The Australia Institute. Their chat (from mark 14.00) covers national days, the commemoration of blood sacrifice, how corporate donors to the War Memorial are possibly

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Stephens, David: War Memorial fundraising probe should come up with donations code of practice

David Stephens* ‘War Memorial fundraising probe should come up with donations code of practice’, Honest History, 29 May 2018 updated Update 10 June 2018: Toni Hassan in Fairfax with quotes from Director Nelson and Honest History spokesperson. Update 31 May

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Bean not yet counted out? War Memorial Director Nelson (and friends) in the redistribution trenches

Update 4 July 2018: Bean gets up. Update 5 June 2018: Fairfax report on the hearing of the augmented Electoral Commission, which heard vigorous arguments for both Nott and Bean. Honest History has previously noted the electoral redistribution for the

Honest History Treasurer Michael Piggott has new post with Deakin University, working at the National Library

Honest History Treasurer, Michael Piggott AM, has joined a Deakin University Contemporary Histories Research Group Australian Research Council team as Senior Research Fellow. Michael will be based at the National Library for a year, developing and applying a methodology to

Honest History’s submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Canberra’s National Institutions – and the proposed $500m extension to the Australian War Memorial

Note: This post has grown since it began and now covers two closely related matters: the Honest History submission to the parliamentary inquiry into Canberra’s national institutions; the proposed $500m extension of the Australian War Memorial – an underground project

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Budget summary: Anzac centenary winds down, War Memorial digitisation gets thumbs up, Captain Cook rewarmed, non-MSM comments

Honest History has done some work on past Budgets, tracking the Commonwealth spend on Anzac centenary commemoration (which had reached $342 million spent by June last year, plus another $260 million or so by the States and Territories and corporate

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80 years on since Pig Iron Bob: new documentary has contemporary relevance

November this year marks 80 years since the Dalfram dispute, wherein then federal minister, soon to be PM, Robert Menzies, earned the nick-name ‘Pig Iron Bob’ for what seemed his excessive eagerness to sell to Japan material which had a

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Some schadenfreude about Picardy (une joie malicieuse à propos de Picardie)

We thought this little story deserved a multilingual headline. Close followers of the Anzac season will have caught up with the despatches about the error-ridden Villers-Bretonneux piece in some Fairfax papers by veteran ‘storian Jonathan King. The article has now

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Nine alternative views for Anzac Day – including Lisa Barritt-Eyles on how Lake Macquarie tackled the Frontier Wars

Rather than keep up with the flood of formulaic Anzac Day stories, we collected these few, some of them from our associates, all of them, to varying degrees, coming at ‘the One Day of the Year’ from different angles. (There

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War Memorial commissions film that shows Turkish side of Gallipoli, then and now

A film by Turkish film-maker, Koken Ergun, is showing in Sydney till 12 May. The film, Heroes, was made with $25 000 and ‘free rein’ from the Australian War Memorial, is now owned by the Memorial and will be shown

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Battlefields of the Raj tour with Professor Peter Stanley

As followers of his work will know, Honest History’s Past President, Professor Peter Stanley of UNSW Canberra, is an authority on, among other things, the military history of British India. Later in 2018 he is leading a UNSW Canberra Study

Lismore does Anzac Day differently

News about the now well established, but rather different, Anzac Day events in Lismore in the Northern Rivers district of New South Wales. Speakers include Honest History Vice President, Alison Broinowski. Details and contact information. There’ll also be some promotions

General Campbell becomes Chief of the Defence Force; General Burr and Admiral Noonan to join Council of Australian War Memorial

The Prime Minister has announced that Lieutenant General Angus Campbell will become Chief of the Defence Force from July, replacing Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin. Major General Rick Burr is to become Chief of Army, replacing Lieutenant General Campbell. Rear

Frontier War Story Camp; Peter Greste on Monash; le footy and le cricket feature in Monashfest in Picardy

These things are happening during Anzac season 2018: Frontier Wars Story Camp and Lest We Forget the Frontier Wars March, Canberra, 19-25 April; former ABC journalist, Peter Greste, has a two part doco on Sir John Monash (and his connections

Three upcoming events in different parts of the world: Albany, Canberra and Reims

Albany Albany WA is the setting for something called ‘Convoy Campout’ on 24-25 April. It promises camping out under the stars, a range of Anzac-themed events and, from the money raised, a ‘contribution’ to the War Widows Guild. We are

Changing the guard at Veterans’ Affairs: Liz Cosson is new Secretary as Simon Lewis retires

Simon Lewis PSM is to retire on 18 May as Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Thanking Mr Lewis for his work, Prime Minister Turnbull referred particularly to his management of the Anzac centenary over the last four years.

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Stephens, David: Brendan Nelson’s bunker and with cap in hand: contrasts in funding our national cultural institutions

David Stephens* ‘Brendan Nelson’s bunker and with cap in hand: contrasts in funding our national cultural institutions’, Honest History, 9 April 2018 updated Update 11 May 2018: Honest History’s submission to the JSCNET Inquiry into Canberra’s National Institutions The Director

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What’s On: a war history conference in Canberra

  Canberra The Australian Centre for the Study of Armed Conflict and Society at UNSW Canberra is running a symposium on 8 May on the topic ‘Why Australia went to the Great War’. Presenters are Greg Lockhart, John Mordike, Douglas

Want to buy (or sell) some ‘Made in Australia’ military kit?

Following recent announcements about an increased Australian arms export drive, there has come to light online this interesting resource: the Australian Military Sales Catalogue 2018, Edition 2, published by the Australian Military Sales Office. This glossy document now includes ‘a

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12 months of The Honest History Book: pleasing sales figures reported

Around 12 months ago, The Honest History Book became available in shops and online. We can report that the book, as of today, has sold 2060 copies, including 1880 hard copies, and is still selling. We reckon this shows there

Blowing the whistle on Australia as gunrunner: two pertinent non-MSM pieces

Prime Minister Turnbull recently announced a $3.8 billion defence export plan. ‘Gunrunners’ is Defence Force slang for makers and purveyors of arms and related equipment. Perhaps the government has earned that epithet as well. Overall, Australia plans to spend some

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Napier Waller Art Prize a good War Memorial initiative targeted at Defence personnel and veterans – but paid for by an arms manufacturer

The Australian War Memorial has launched the ­Napier Waller Art Prize, the first national art prize offered ­exclusively to Defence personnel. (Memorial information on the prize. Fairfax story. Murdoch story.) The prize is open to all current and former Defence

Khaki reshuffle follows Joycean kerfuffle: Chester becomes Veterans’ Affairs Minister

One Nat minister jumped right over another Nat minister’s back … * Victorian MP Darren Chester is to become Minister for Veterans’ Affairs in a small reshuffle announced this evening. In Guardian Australia, another report says Mr Chester will also

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Australian War Memorial Fellow Dr Chau Chak Wing has cameo role in Clive Hamilton book on Chinese influence in Australia

Update 26 May 2018: David Wroe and Sally White in Fairfax with some reaction from the Memorial’s Dr Nelson, who says the Memorial will not be giving Dr Chau’s money back. Update 25 May 2018: Sally Whyte in Fairfax goes

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New Deputy PM’s workload raises questions about treatment of Veterans’ Affairs, Centenary of Anzac and Defence Personnel: new Ministry list

Update 5 March 2018: new Ministry List released. Update 1 March 2018: Sorted. McCormack’s former jobs (and the ticket for Villers-Bretonneux in April) passed to Chester. Update 28 February 2018: Reports (for example, this one) circulating of a reshuffle of

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Australians’ perceptions of historic events vary subtly across the country

A recent survey of Australians’ perceptions of important historic events shows some variation across states and territories. There are also some differences across gender and age. The survey was conducted in November last year by the Social Research Centre and

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If Michael McCormack becomes Leader of the Nationals, there’ll be an opportunity to abolish Veterans’ Affairs

Update 26 February 2018: how it turned out. Michael McCormack: the last of the line? (Queensland Times) After a glitch a few days ago, Michael McCormack MP seems to be favourite to become Leader of the Nationals and Deputy Prime

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Bombing of Darwin 76 years on: Territory tourism to have even stronger khaki tinge (but focus is still too narrow)

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs pro tem* Michael McCormack reminds us that today marks the 76th anniversary of the bombing of Darwin in February 1942. Around 400 people were killed in Darwin and in later raids on other northern towns. SS

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Victorian government survey on Anzac Day recognition of Frontier Wars provokes predictable pile-on

In August last year, the Victorian government did some research on ‘the social value of war commemorative events’. Among many other questions, the research (using a sample of about 500 people) asked whether the deaths of Indigenous Australians in the

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Honest History in 2018 – and possibly beyond

Honest History in 2018 – and possibly beyond The Honest History website (and the Honest History association) began in mid-2013. Since then we have placed on the website nearly 2800 posts and another 70 pages (including two editions of Honest

National Museum’s Australian Journey looks like a useful resource for secondary and tertiary students

The National Museum of Australia has just unveiled a new resource for secondary and tertiary students. It is called Australian Journey: The Story of a Nation in 12 Objects and it can be found on the NMA website and on

Awards for Australian historians, Janet McCalman AC and Marilyn Lake AO

Congratulations to Professor Janet McCalman, awarded AC in today’s list, and Professor Marilyn Lake, awarded AO. Both are at the University of Melbourne. Marilyn Lake was a member of Honest History’s original committee in 2013-14. 26 January 2018

New study to investigate culture of abuse and bullying in the Australian Defence Force

Academics James Connor (UNSW Canberra) and Ben Wadham (Flinders University) have a grant to investigate ‘the culture behind abuse and bullying in the Australian Defence Force’. The media release has more. Our research [said Dr Connor] will look at the

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Repost of Humphrey McQueen 2017 on Australia Day – plus other material on this perennial but important set of issues

Update 8 February 2018: Paul Daley in Guardian Australia on what the confected fuss about flying the Indigenous flag on a large Sydney coathanger says about Australia 2018: It is regrettable that anything approaching public argument over such a fundamental

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The World Inequality Report 2018: latest word on an Honest History ‘special subject’

For the last three years, Honest History has tracked media (mainstream and not) articles and research-based reports on inequality, its multiple causes and manifestations. The Honest History Book also focused sharply on inequality, given what seemed to us to be

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Cabinet papers from 1994-95 opened, including commentary by Honest History’s Frank Bongiorno

Every year about this time another pile of Cabinet papers is made public under the 25 year rule. This year’s tranche covers 1994-95 and there is good coverage in The Conversation, including an article by Honest History president and ANU

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Dan Tehan promoted to Minister for Social Services; Michael McCormack is new man at Veterans’ Affairs-Centenary of Anzac

Minister Tehan (Twitter) The Honourable Dan Tehan, formerly Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Minister for Defence Personnel, and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of Anzac, and for Cyber Security, has been promoted to the job of Minister for

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UPDATE: Dr Nelson reappointed to Australian War Memorial Director’s position

Update 30 January 2018: Dr Nelson’s new term expires on 30 May 2019. Update 31 December 2017: outgoing Minister Tehan announced the reappointment of Dr Nelson in a media release dated 19 December but not posted until after that date.

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Going deep into international taxation: these issues have been around for a long time

Many readers (and viewers) will have been following the recent publicity about the large companies who avoid paying much tax – or, in some cases, any tax. Most recently, Labor frontbencher, Andrew Leigh, weighed in, and before him there were,

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New History Lab project gets under way at UTS and 2SER 107.3FM

Podcasts with a historical bent will be the output of a new project getting under way in Sydney. History Lab is Australia’s first investigative history podcast, hosted by historians Tamson Pietsch and Anna Clark The series is made in collaboration

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ANU opens negotiations with Ramsay Foundation for studies in Western Civilisation

The Australian National University, Canberra, has announced that it is ‘currently negotiating with the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation to develop a new program in Western Civilisation to add to the University’s suite of undergraduate programs that includes European studies,

Professor Tom Griffiths, Honest History distinguished supporter (and launcher of The Honest History Book), wins ACT Book of the Year 2017 for his book The Art of Time Travel

Congratulations to Professor Tom Griffiths AO of the Australian National University who has received the ACT Book of the Year Award for his book, The Art of Time Travel: Historians and Their Craft. The book had already received the Ernest

A Nobel achievement, partly Australian, unsung by the Australian government: the Nobel Peace Prize goes to ICAN

ICAN (the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) has received its Nobel Peace Prize at a ceremony in Oslo. Margaret Beavis writes from the Medical Association for Prevention of War; Dr Beavis is an ICAN Board member. Also this from

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Long Tan Cross repatriation a good time to put Vietnam War in perspective

The Long Tan Cross has been repatriated to Australia, as reported on Defence Connect, by the Prime Minister and Minister Tehan, and in the media. There are plans for the cross to go on permanent display at the Australian War

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Broadcaster Genevieve Jacobs – a great friend of Honest History – reluctantly leaves ABC Canberra

Honest History notes with sadness the departure of presenter Genevieve Jacobs from the ABC’s Canberra bureau. Genevieve worked closely with Honest History to present a regular fortnightly ‘Honest History spot’ on ABC Canberra Local Radio 666. This spot ran for

A chance to help the National Library get even better: 15 minutes, not of fame, but to complete an essential survey

We have received this message from the National Library of Australia: The Library is seeking your feedback on the extent to which our digitised material and online collections meet your research or study needs. We would like to know the

Eureka 163rd anniversary: resources on the Honest History site

Yesterday, 3 December 2017, was the 163rd anniversary of the Eureka stockade skirmish, which marked the end of a brief uprising of goldminers at Ballarat, Victoria. At least 20 miners and six soldiers were killed. The Honest History site has

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Ken Inglis 1929-2017

Ken Inglis, Australian historian, died in Melbourne last Friday afternoon, aged 88. Ken’s books on a wide range of topics are an outstanding legacy to the study of Australian history and to Australia. His work on commemoration and memory has

The Australian banking Royal Commission of 1935-37: a precedent unlikely to be followed

Update 27 February 2018: Nicholas Gruen in Pearls and Irritations dives deep into the issues. Update 3 December 2017: Greg Jericho in Guardian Australia looks closely at the terms of reference this time around. And so does Kevin Davis in

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Cornering posterity: support for the Internet Archive, a way in to a breathtaking amount of information

Honest History has always been taken with the suggestion that postings to the Internet are the 21st century version of what used to be said of journalism – ‘the first draft of history’. But who makes sure all the good

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Nobel Peace Prize win to be marked in Canberra

The Nobel Peace Prize win by the Australian-born International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) barely rated on Canberra’s Capital Hill. It clashed with the debut of a young Australian in (we think) American ice hockey. There is a function

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Steady as she goes or wait and see? Some (mostly) non-Main Stream Media views of the Foreign Policy White Paper

The Foreign Policy White Paper would not have escaped most reasonably alert people’s notice, even as there began the cricketing equivalent of the Battle of Brisbane though, in that case, the Australians’ antagonists were Americans. (That battle was 75 years

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Divided sunburnt country: Australia 1916-18 (30): Officially sponsored 2017 view of the conscription battles of 1916-17

‘Divided sunburnt country: Australia 1916-18 (30): Officially sponsored 2017 view of the conscription battles of 1916-17’, Honest History, 20 November 2017 The ‘Divided sunburnt country’ series Some Fairfax papers today carry an article by Michael Grealy on the conscription referendums

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Hugh White writing and talking about Australia in Asia, Xi in China, and Trump in the White House

Hugh White of ANU is bringing out a Quarterly Essay soon, entitled ‘Without America: Australia in the New Asia’. The link above has details of chats with Hugh White in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra from 28 November to 5 December.

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Paradoxical purchase: War Memorial acquires APY ‘defence of Country’ painting Kulatangku angakanyini manta munu Tjukurpa

The Australian War Memorial has unveiled a large painting by artists from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) lands in South Australia. The painting, Kulatangku angakanyini manta munu Tjukurpa (‘Country and Culture will be protected by spears’) hangs in a conspicuous

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Winging it with Dr Chau: Clive Hamilton’s suppressed book has more about the War Memorial’s Fellow

Update 26 February 2018: the book has been published by Hardie Grant. Update 1 March 2018: Our take on the Dr Chau angle. Update 1 December 2017: Dr Chau hosts a policy conference in China, where speakers include President Xi.

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Beyond the poppies row on row: Remembrance Day is a good day to think

Remembrance Day (Armistice Day, if you prefer) – like Anzac Day, Christmas, Easter, Passover, Ramadan, Diwali, Melbourne Cup Day, and other regular ceremonial and commemorative occasions – triggers virtually automatic reactions among many of us. Poppies, stories of old Diggers,

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Down the Remembrance Trail to Villers-Bretonneux with the (fairly self-effacing – so far) DVA publicity machine

Readers of the Launceston Examiner, North-west Tasmania Advocate and Canberra Times earlier this week will have seen some articles under the byline of Michael Grealy. The articles in the Canberra Times were headed ‘New tribute to Diggers in Europe’, ‘“Mad

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The Honest History Book is on this non-fiction list – and well covered

Lisa Hill at popular blog ANZ LitLovers has done a list of books for non-fiction November. The Honest History Book is on Lisa’s list of 13 non-fiction books of 2017. (Lisa reviewed the book recently.) Also on the LitLovers list

Guardian Australia: From Louise Lovely to Nicole Kidman: 100 years of Australian film – in pictures

Guardian Australia ‘From Louise Lovely to Nicole Kidman: 100 years of Australian film – in pictures‘, Guardian Australia, 5 November 2017 Cheery on a wet day in Canberra, this is a promo for an exhibition, Starstruck: Australian Movie Portraits, opening

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Two reviews of – and a French riff off – The Honest History Book

The Honest History Book was published seven months ago and is still doing very well, thank you. There have been lots of reviews and comments (follow the link above) and here are some more. French-Australian historian, Romain Fathi, now at

The Atatürk memorial at Anzac Cove has been restored but the words – though moving – are still dubious

The photograph below, taken on 29 October, shows the Atatürk memorial at Anzac Cove (Ari Burnu) after recent refurbishment. Honest History offered some advice to Turkish President Erdoğan about future options for the memorial but – not surprisingly perhaps –

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Specially Forced? Odd outburst from Director of Australian War Memorial

ABC TV News yesterday (2 November 2017) repeatedly ran an interview by Defence reporter, Andrew Greene, with Australian War Memorial Director, Brendan Nelson, in which Dr Nelson questioned the time being taken by the Army’s review into the conduct of

Australian Historical Association National Conference July 2018: call for papers

The 2018 Conference of the Australian Historical Association, ‘The Scale of History’, is on at the Australian National University in Canberra, 2-6 July 2018. Historians make choices about the scale of their inquiry. They set parameters for their projects –

Tell us What’s On – and we can tell other people

After running a separate What’s On page since we began the Honest History website, we now reckon the best way of keeping up with what’s happening – and adding value for readers – is for us to do individual website

1917: Year of War and Revolution seminar in Canberra, 4 November

The Canberra group of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History and the School of History at the Australian National University are holding a seminar at the ANU on 4 November. Aspects of the tumultous year 1917 will

Australia Explained: a website by an ex-European for migrants who find themselves in the Wide Brown Land

We’ve caught up with Australia Explained, a website wrangled by Dr Ingeborg van Teeseling, who came here in 2006 from the Netherlands. The site has sections on history, Aussie mavericks, books, films, people, resources and opinions, as well as Ingeborg’s

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The Dunera Boys 77 years on: Dunera News No. 101

Thanks to our contacts in the Dunera community (still going strong after 77 years) for passing us their latest newsletter, dated October 2017. This edition includes a re-enactment, reunions and some interesting personal stories. For readers who don’t know, the

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‘Anzackery’ definition included in the new edition of the Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary

‘Anzackery’ is one of the new words included in the sixth and latest edition of the Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary, edited by Mark Gwynn and Amanda Laugesen, and to be published on 26 October. As in the Australian National Dictionary

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Official Anzac pitch to schools deserves an alternative view: Honest History’s Alternative Guide to the Australian War Memorial; The Honest History Book

There is much more to Australia’s wartime history than its military history. There is much more to Australia’s history than the history of its wars. At a time when Minister Tehan is handing out Anzac Day Awards to schools across

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Tocsin magazine brings out another edition … and here’s an apposite poem from 1917

Honest History noted a little while ago the launch of Tocsin, a publication from the John Curtin Research Centre. The centre’s inaugural gala dinner happens to be tonight, addressed by the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten. Tocsin‘s second number

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More thoughts on the memorials/statues debate: Don Watson and Tracey Spicer

We have collected lots of links from home and abroad on the recently aired (but perennial) issue of statues, monuments, memorials, remembering and forgetting. You can find them here, under the heading ‘The past, choosing our history, and memorials: an

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War Memorial Director Brendan Nelson at the Press Club: speech or performance art? Centenary Watch update

David Stephens of Honest History analyses last week’s National Press Club address by the Director of the Australian War Memorial, Dr Brendan Nelson. The speech was called ‘Tragedy and triumph – 1917’ and looked at Passchendaele and Beersheba, two key

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19th International Cinema of the Antipodes Festival, Saint Tropez

If you happen to be in St Tropez between 9 and 15 October, look out for the 19th International Cinema of the Antipodes Festival (19es Rencontres Internationales du Cinéma des Antipodes). Among the films on show are classics like Forty

Political partisans: a conservative line of succession (culminating in Tony Abbott) and the Burkes of Perth

Two new books have hit the shelves. One is thicker than the other but both take the long view. They look at nominally different sides of politics, though readers of both books might suspect considerable overlap of views between the

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Songlines need to be marked and followed: new at the National Museum of Australia

Just opened at the National Museum and running till February is Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters. Songlines – roughly, wisdom-bearing Dreaming paths – may be mysterious to many settler (non-Indigenous) Australians but this exhibition should at least begin to set

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Recently on the Honest History website (20 September 2017)

Our last few weeks have been rather quieter as far as new posts go. A little bit of illness has stalked the ranks of the Honest History elves and this has slowed us down a mite. However, we have still

Australian Peacekeeping: 70th anniversary and unveiling of memorial

This week marks the 70th anniversary of the first deployment of Australian forces in a peacekeeping role. After many years of effort and fundraising, a memorial to Peacekeepers will be dedicated in Canberra on Thursday, 14 September. Details are in

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Shooting the Past: Clare Wright presents radio with historical pictures on ABC RN

Coming up on ABC RN is Shooting the Past, a series of programs each starting with a single photograph and asking ‘what is going on in this picture?’ The series kicks off proper on Friday, 1 September, at 1.30 pm,

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South China Sea, Korea and Pine Gap: three items on foreign and defence policy, historically and now

Former diplomat Mack Williams writes in Pearls and Irritations about the importance of involving South Korea in any ‘solution’ to the festering crisis on the peninsula. Williams is a former Australian ambassador to Seoul. Another former diplomat, Andrew Farran, speculates

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Aboriginal History now has 40 years of articles easily searchable three ways

Aboriginal History is published annually by the Australian Centre for Indigenous History, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra. The journal now offers an index of all of its articles, 450 of them 1977-2016, in Word, Excel or

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The past, choosing our history, and memorials: an issue in Charlottesville and many other places

‘Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments. You … can’t change history, but you can learn from it.’: President Trump, Twitter, 17 August 2017

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Want to spend the weekend with Constitution section 44? A useful backgrounder from the Parliamentary Library

Note: related material on ‘Australian values’. Update 12 November 2017: more from former Labor speechwriter, Graham Freudenberg, who links the unsuccessful Bicentennial celebrations of 1988 with various events since (Pearls and Irritations). The disqualification of members of parliament is only

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‘[M]easured and analytical essays’: Sarah Burnside on Overland reviews The Honest History Book

Overland has posted a review note of The Honest History Book. Author Sarah Burnside of Perth says: I picked up The Honest History Book during the first wave of concerted right-wing attacks on Yassmin Abdel-Magied* for her seven-word facebook post on Anzac

Better late than never: Minister says best form of commemoration is to look after today’s veterans and families

Update later 15 August 2017: Minister welcomes report of the Senate References Committee into suicide by veterans and ex-service personnel. (The report is here.) SBS Insight program ‘Coming Home’ on issues faced by ADF personnel coming back into the civilian

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Korea, the war that never ended, might be starting up again: some useful source material

Update 19 August 2017: Michael Leunig on being ‘joined at the hip’ in ANZUS (‘Australia and New Zealand’s Unquestioning Subservience’) As one who was almost jailed under the ANZUS treaty for resisting a notice of military conscription in the Vietnam

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‘Joined at the hip’ department: Melbourne conference on keeping Australia out of US wars

The prime minister says Australia will be involved if North Korea attacks the United States in the current heated atmosphere. Indeed, ‘we are joined at the hip’ with the United States. He cites the ANZUS treaty. Even more relevant now

‘There is a land where summer skies are gleaming with a thousand dyes’: a 1977 voluntary vote plebiscite on a musical matter

Plebiscites are in the news. There have been plebiscites before in Australian history. There were two on conscription in 1916-17 and they were held against perhaps the greatest societal divisions in our history. (See our series, ‘Divided sunburnt country‘.) Forty

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From the Honest History archives: Lest We Forget Hiroshima 72 years ago this week

Repost from last year. Why? Well, we faithfully and annually commemorate wartime events involving Australians. Some of these events are relatively insignificant, even trivial, in the scheme of things or when compared with other wartime events. It seems only right

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Minister says stand-alone DVA will continue – but here’s some advice, just in case

We don’t quite know why he felt the need but Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of Anzac, Minister for Defence Personnel, and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security [pause for breath],

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Betty Cuthbert, Australian Olympic Athlete, dead at 79

Reposted from 12 April 2016. The senior citizens among us remember Betty Cuthbert as an athlete when we were all much younger, in a much simpler time. All of us noted her appearance at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and

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Black Mist Burnt Country: touring exhibition tells the story of the Maralinga tests and their impact

The recent death of Yami Lester brings to prominence again the long struggle of activists regarding the impacts of the British atomic tests at Maralinga in the 1950s. Black Mist Burnt Country is a national touring exhibition, which commemorates the 60th

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Inequality is a much more complex issue than kneejerk political responses suggest: a dozen links

Honest History has had a special interest in inequality for more than three years. Under our homepage Inequality thumbnail we have collected a mass of links to resources – reports, comments, even some policy proposals from government – which track

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Stumbling Past the recent Australian Historical Association conference in Newcastle

Blogger Yvonne Perkins (Stumbling through the Past) has performed a great service by collating material from the recent Australian Historical Association conference in Newcastle. There is an analysis of tweets and blogs, some papers, and lots of other material which

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Australian racism and how we see each other: poems by Steven Oliver and a film by Warwick Thornton

We have never come across this poet and comic, Steven Oliver, before – which says more about our lack of awareness than about his talent and perspicacity – but New Matilda ran two videos of his poetry this week and

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Recently on the Honest History website (25 July 2017)

We continue to move posts through the site fairly quickly so the place to go, if you know you have missed something or, indeed, to check what you may have missed unwittingly, is under our home page thumbnails, First Peoples,

Honest History: Some extracts from Honest History’s Alternative Guide to the Australian War Memorial

Honest History ‘Some extracts from Honest History’s Alternative Guide to the Australian War Memorial, Second edition, June 2017’, Honest History, 25 July 2017 updated We have produced the second edition of Honest History’s Alternative Guide to the Australian War Memorial.

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Arms spending and war: which comes first, at home and abroad?

Christopher Pyne, Minister for Defence Industry, has been talking up the possibilities of Australia growing its arms exports industry. Fairfax’s David Wroe says Pyne ‘wants Australia to become a major arms exporter on par with Britain, France and Germany and

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Australian diversity and what we think about each other – and do to each other

We’ve heard a lot recently about ‘Australian values’ and what the government expects of new arrivals in relation to them. (The term ‘Australian values’ seems to be relatively recent in our history though it has popped up previously.) There is

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United Nations adopts treaty banning nuclear weapons despite opposition from nuclear nations – and Australia

While the posturing around Korea (here and use our Search engine) proceeded, the United Nations on Friday adopted the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons. States will begin signing the treaty on 20 September. The treaty comes into force

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Two blogs about North Korea on Pearls and Irritations: taking a level-headed view of brinkmanship

Update 11 July 2017: another former Ambassador to Korea, Mack Williams, weighs in, suggesting that Australian alliance links with the United States are the most likely cause of our being a target for North Korean missiles (Pearls and Irritations). Dennis

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The Conversation on cancer, comrades and cyber warfare: helping Dear Reader to keep up

Honest History has often sung the praises of The Conversation because it provides readable, evidence-based material from people who know their stuff. We suspect that many of our readers also read The Conversation. But we still think it is worth

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Death of Emeritus Professor Antonio (Tony) Sagona of the University of Melbourne

Honest History notes the death on 29 June of Emeritus Professor Antonio (Tony) Sagona of the University of Melbourne, and offers condolences to his friends and family. A death notice is here and the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor Glyn

Armenian Genocide 1915-23: 43 distinguished Australians call on SBS to change its approach to this historic humanitarian disaster

Honest History has provided many resources on the Armenian Genocide (use our Search engine with term ‘Armenian’). The Honest History Book includes a chapter by Vicken Babkenian and Judith Crispin on Australian involvement with Armenians after the Genocide, which is

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Census results: 45.5 per cent of us had one or both parents born overseas – but does the Anglo-Celtic narrative still dominate?

The Conversation has a comprehensive coverage of the results of the 2016 Census (six articles from this week, plus earlier material), released yesterday. The Census website goes into further detail. There is also a video on the Guardian Australia site

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Australian War Memorial’s $16.1 million shed for big war things: money well spent?

As reported in the Canberra Times, the Australian War Memorial is making its case to the parliamentary Public Works Committee to build a $16.1 million facility at Mitchell in Canberra. On past form, the PWC will put a tick on

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Lowy Institute Poll 2017 shows some shifts in Australians’ opinions about the world out there

The Lowy Institute annually polls Australian opinions on international relations. This year’s poll (1200 respondents by telephone in the first half of March) yielded these results (key points only, Executive summary, more at the link above): Most Australians (79%) are

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Talking about The Conversation: five easy pieces in just a few days

Update 22 June 2017: and, lo, just as we ruled a line and settled on the headline, The Conversation came good again with: three charts on looming differential access to the National Broadband Network (digital divide, another form of inequality);

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Turkish Gallipoli memorials refurbishment takes out Ataturk’s apocryphal ‘Those heroes’ words – for now at least

Update 18 June 2017: our considered view on all of this, including three options for what to do next – addressed to President Erdogan. Update 18 June 2017: Yahoo 7; Courier Mail; Stuff Co NZ; Daily Mail; News Limited; West

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New edition of Honest History’s Alternative Guide to the Australian War Memorial complements The Honest History Book

Fourteen months ago, we posted on this website Honest History’s Alternative Guide to the Australian War Memorial. Since then the Guide has been downloaded more than 2000 times. A little more than two months ago, NewSouth published The Honest History

Recently on the Honest History website (13 June 2017)

We launched the Honest History website in November 2013. At that time we had about 600 posts on the site. In June 2017, we have more than 2500 posts on the site and most of those posts include links to

Michael Piggott AM: Honour for Honest History’s Treasurer

Congratulations to Michael Piggott, who has been made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the Queen’s Birthday honours list, ‘for significant service to the community as an archivist with national and international educational and cultural organisations, and

‘A passionate argument for a wider Australian history’: The Honest History Book reviewed in Newtown Review of Books

Posted today in the Newtown Review of Books is a review of The Honest History Book by Adelaide author, Bernard Whimpress. This [the book] is a passionate argument for a wider Australian history. Never have so many ringing phrases from

Three thought-provoking foreign and defence policy posts (no, actually four) on the Pearls and Irritations blog

Even when the times are out of joint, the Australian media is not good at looking intelligently at issues of foreign and defence policy. Stories that can be linked to striking pictures – of oddball leaders gloating over missile test

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‘A long overdue reassessment’: Steven Carroll on The Honest History Book

The Sydney Morning Herald has a review note by Steven Carroll in which he describes The Honest History Book as ‘[a] long overdue reassessment’ of an Australian history long Anzac-dominated. There is more about the book here, including reviews by

James Brown elected as president of NSW RSL

Author and commentator James Brown has been elected president of the New South Wales Branch of the Returned and Services League. Brown, now at the University of Sydney and formerly with the Lowy Institute, is a retired Captain in the

Donate to the National Library to help share the story of Sidney Nolan

The National Library of Australia is raising funds to preserve and improve access to the papers of Australian artist, Sidney Nolan. There are 160 boxes of material needing rehousing and description. Selective digitisation will give researchers and art-lovers access to

Better not forget The Forgotten People: 75 years since RG Menzies’ direction-setting speech

There is to be a big dinner at Parliament House tonight to mark the 75th anniversary of a broadcast delivered on radio station 2GB, 3AW and others by a former prime minister, but then humble backbencher, the Right Honourable Robert

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SBS, The Australian and the Armenian Genocide: a recent exchange of views

Update 26 June 2017: more on this story from Mitchell Bingemann again in The Australian of 26 June and from Michael Ebeid of SBS in Senate Estimates (from page 87 of the proof Hansard). George Donikian, Armenian-Australian, former SBS and

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Budget provisions on commemoration, Veterans’ Affairs, more space at the War Memorial, cultural institutions – and a machinery of government proposal

Update 12 May 2017: For a non-mainstream media view of the overall Budget, see the articles by Michael Keating, former Secretary of the Departments of Finance and Prime Minister and Cabinet, in Pearls and Irritations. Part 1, Part 2. There’s

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ABC Q&A comments by Minister Tehan and others show how far past Peak Anzac we have come

The ABC’s Q&A program last night (video; transcript; Twitter; ABC story) tackled a number of questions with compere Virginia Trioli and panellists including Dan Tehan, Minister for a number of things including the Centenary of Anzac and Veterans’ Affairs. Honest

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Remembering 1967 (an excellent year) in Heidelberg

The hardworking Heidelberg (Melbourne) Historical Society announces its ‘Remembering ’67’ exhibition, now open at the Heidelberg Historical Society Museum, Jika Street, Heidelberg, every Sunday between 2.00 and 5.00 p.m until December. The poster below gives a flavour – brings it

Three Anzac season stories from the University of Melbourne’s Pursuit research report

The University of Melbourne does a regular report, Pursuit, on research being undertaken at the university. Recently, it posted: Michelle Moo on women doctors who fought to be able to provide medical services during World War I; Phill Cobbin on

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The Honest History Book: second Sydney launch at Australian Institute of International Affairs

At Glover Cottages, Kent Street, on 2 May, the first Tuesday after Anzac Day, a timely book edited by Dr David Stephens and Dr Alison Broinowski was on show to members and guests of the AIIA, New South Wales Branch.

Brunswick-Coburg Anti-Conscription Commemoration Campaign Conference, 20 May

This important conference is to be held in Brunswick on Saturday, 20 May, at roughly the half-way point between the centenaries of the two unsuccessful conscription plebiscites during World War I. This all day event will cover details of the

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Contemporary Histories Research Group, Deakin University: Contemporary Histories Blog

The group has commenced a new series on exploring contemporary histories and decision-making. It gets under way with a note from Carolyn Holbrook on ‘The Australian Federation of the Mind’. She points to something of a contradiction in the way

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Recently on the Honest History site (2 May 2017)

We at Honest History are very much aware that posts rumble through our site fairly rapidly. This note is to help you catch up with recent posts you might have missed. You can also go to the tagged lists under

Angry Anzac Day 2017: three pieces from Guardian Australia: get those responses rolling in

Update 1 October 2017: Autobiographical piece from Yassmin Abdel-Magied covers the Anzac fuss. Update 18 August 2017: Yassmin Abdel-Magied talks about being Australia’s most publicly hated Muslim. Update 7 August 2017: Yassmin Abdel-Magied wonders where the free speech defenders were

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On every Anzac Day: a rapid round-up of reports before rumbling on to the next ridge

Related material: earlier; later. *** Two years ago, media academic Sharon Mascall-Dare wrote about how journalists every year slip into a standard Anzac Day reporting mode. Look for an old Digger, some attractive young kiddies waving flags, and someone crying,

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The full set: seven pieces of non-mainstream, non-marked up, non-profit commentary for Anzac Day

Related material: later; later still. *** Updated with a few more on Anzac Day itself This Anzac season, as in a number of previous years, Australian children – and possibly some adults, too – can pick up some Anzac mementoes

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Successful launch of The Honest History Book in Melbourne with Jonathan Green

The Honest History Book launchathon ended last evening at Readings Carlton with about 50 people in attendance. Jonathan Green of Meanjin and ABC RN cycled up Lygon Street from the ABC to do the launch honours and co-editor David Stephens

Welcome to what? A note on immigration, multiculturalism and ‘Australian values’

Update 19 March 2018: proposal by Minister Dutton to bring white South African farmers to Australia is linked by Jon Piccini in The Conversation to a historic Australian whiteness trope. Update 19 October 2017: the Government’s proposed citizenship changes fail

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Mnemosyne: online opportunity for feminist writers on the New South Wales South Coast

Mnemosyne is a new online journal wrangled by feminist writers on the south coast of New South Wales. It ‘celebrates the power and vitality of women’s storytelling and acknowledges the deep connection that many South Coast women, particularly Indigenous women,

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John Pilger’s The Coming War on China is on SBS on Sunday: here’s a resource package

Late last year, John Pilger, journalist and film-maker, released his documentary, The Coming War on China. It didn’t get much of a run in theatres though it got a review in the Sydney Morning Herald and another in The Age,

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The Honest History Book launched in Sydney with great speech from Associate Professor Michelle Arrow

A wet night in Glebe yesterday saw the Sydney launch of The Honest History Book. Around 80 people braved the rain and found their way to the upper room at Gleebooks, where proceedings were wrangled efficiently by James Ross. David

Five points for John Clarke, also known as Fred Dagg, Trans-Tasman observer: incisive but no prick

The death of John Clarke, comedian and satirist, has brought forth some nice pieces of an obituarial bent. The present writer recalls snuffling with glee over Fred Dagg books and, a little later, chuckling at Farnarkling (a much more plausible

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The Constitution, White Australia and population shifts: recently on The Conversation

The online journal The Conversation continues to traverse a wide range of subject matter. Recently, we noted: Ryan Goss on how our Constitution came to be written and what we should do with it next; Benjamin T. Jones on the

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Two-thirds of Great Barrier Reef hit by back-to-back mass coral bleaching

Media release today from James Cook University, Townsville, widely reported in other media. For the second time in just 12 months, scientists have recorded severe coral bleaching across huge tracts of the Great Barrier Reef after completing aerial surveys along

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One hundred years since the United States entered the Great War, some comments on foreign and defence options

Updated 18 April 2017: Gareth Evans at the National Press Club (podcast and summary). Updated 17 April 2017: More from James O’Neill in Pearls and Irritations. Updated 14 April 2017: Mike Head on the World Socialist Web Site. Updated 13

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The Honest History Book: Canberra launch with Tom Griffiths; ABC’s James Valentine interviews co-editor David Stephens

Last night around 60 people went to Muse Canberra to hear Professor Tom Griffiths AO of the ANU launch The Honest History Book in the national capital. Attendees agreed that the book is a significant contribution to Australian history and

Anzac Day travel advice for Turkey: terror threat but probably only small numbers travelling to Gallipoli

Ministers Bishop and Tehan and the Australian Federal Police have advised of ‘information which suggests terrorists may seek to target Anzac Day commemorations on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Turkish authorities are aware of this information and traditionally provide a high level

Professor Tom Griffiths AO wins Ernest Scott Prize; to launch The Honest History Book in Canberra

Honest History congratulates Professor Tom Griffiths AO from the Australian National University, who was last night awarded the Ernest Scott Prize from the University of Melbourne for his book The Art of Time Travel: Historians and Their Craft. Tom Griffiths

Does this Advance Australia Fair? The Australian War Memorial’s new marketing slogan

Update 25 April 2017: Sue Wareham in Pearls and Irritations on the War Memorial’s reliance on funding from arms manufacturers. Update 15 April 2017: Canberra Airport is renowned already for its hosting of advertisements for arms manufacturers. The No Airport

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Wearing three hats, an interesting collection of pressers from Minister Tehan

The member for Wannon, Dan Tehan, is minister for a number of things, although we mostly track his activities as Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of Anzac. A clutch of media releases from the Minister this week

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Six snippets of The Conversation (six years old this week) have echoes in The Honest History Book (now available)

Honest History was pleased to send happy sixth birthday wishes to The Conversation; it has been a valuable resource for our website. There are other connections also: some articles in The Conversation this week explore themes which are also evident

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Saving young Indigenous lives: crowd-funding a suicide prevention app called ‘Kurdiji’

Update 24 April 2017: Judith Crispin writes in Pearls and Irritations. Judith Crispin, author, poet, musician and activist, has told us about ‘Kurdiji’, a community-led project initiated by Wanta Jampijinpa in Lajamanu and based on traditional Indigenous ideas around resilience

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Essential Report evidence suggests Australians think relations with the United States are deteriorating

Nothing more than a straw in the wind, but an Essential poll put out today reports 41 per cent who think that Australia’s relationship with the United States is becoming worse, 6 per cent who think it is becoming better

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Late Night Live kicks off media discussion of The Honest History Book

Update 29 March 2017: a recording of the broadcast. Late Night Live on Radio National tomorrow night (Tuesday, 28 March) will feature contributors to The Honest History Book, Alison Broinowski and Joy Damousi, talking to Phillip Adams about aspects of

Five easy pieces for weekend reading as the leaves start to fall

We at Honest History have been flat out promoting The Honest History Book but we found time to notice these: two articles (part 2) by HH distinguished supporter Richard Butler on the risks of Trump for Australia (Pearls and Irritations);

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The Honest History Book is well and truly out there, presenting the evidence that Australia is more than Anzac – and always has been

Our publisher NewSouth advises us that The Honest History Book is now widely available in book shops ($A34.99, $NZ42.99). We have seen a list of shops so far and are impressed by the initial take-up. (If your shop doesn’t have

Long white clouds of Atatürk myth over Aotearoa New Zealand

Long white clouds of Atatürk myth over Aotearoa New Zealand The other day at the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington, New Zealand Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Maggie Barry, and Turkish Ambassador, Ahmet Ergin, unveiled a sculpture

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Multiculturalism statement stresses diversity, ‘fair go’ and equality but reality is different

Update 21 March 2017: Andrew Jakubowicz in The Conversation comments on the statement. Neroli Colvin and John Tons in New Matilda. The Prime Minister and two of his ministers have released the government’s multiculturalism statement Multicultural Australia: United, Strong, Successful.

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Recently on the Honest History site (21 March 2017)

Even as we work up towards the launch (actually launches) of The Honest History Book – very time-consuming – we continue to feed our voracious website with items we have gleaned from other sources and with commissioned (and sometimes unsolicited)

Shorter hours and vigorous industrial action were all the rage 100 years ago, too

This week we heard the Greens leader, Senator Richard Di Natale, go hard for the need to debate shorter working hours. On Lateline, for example, he said this: We’ve got, in Australia, people here doing more hours than any other

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The National Film and Sound Archive has a Sydney Harbour Bridge online exhibition as the Coathanger turns 85

The NFSA has a small but slick exhibition to mark the 85th anniversary of the opening of the bridge on 19 March. The segments are People’s Bridge, Connecting Sydney, Building the Bridge, Star of the Screen, and Trivia. Like Sydney

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New TV documentary chronicles refugee crisis during Armenian Genocide

From the United States comes news of a television documentary, They Shall not Perish: The Story of Near East Relief. The documentary describes the humanitarian efforts of Americans who saved a generation of orphans and refugees after the collapse of

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Hundred years on from the February Revolution of 1917: five lectures, many perspectives

This week is the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the February Revolution of 1917 in Russia. (We know it is March now but that is due to a calendar glitch which need not detain us further.) Honest History will

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True Blue but by no means politically correct – or just a different form of correctness?

Update 10 August 2017: John Roskam of the Institute of Public Affairs talks to Genevieve Jacobs of the ABC. Update 3 May 2017: Tony Abbott talks in Perth: search for ‘Western civilisation’. Update 14 April 2017: We didn’t want to

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Australian War Memorial frames its own view of Indigenous Australians’ fighting past

Why did the Australian War Memorial spend $366 000 on a painting depicting a massacre of Indigenous Australians by white settlers (when it refuses to commemorate the Frontier Wars)? The Australian War Memorial has acquired and unveiled the 1985 painting

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How defence spending gets its claws in: From the Honest History archives

Update 7 March 2017: Andrew Farran on Pearls and Irritations tries to match the F-35 to strategic imperatives. Update 3 March 2017: Steven L. Jones on The Conversation gives some background. News.com report on claimed job spin-offs. ‘A pilot’s dream‘.

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Atlas charts a very useful online resource for all sorts of historical information

A contact referred us to this site for a chart showing international comparisons of mobile internet speeds – Australia (fifth) is not too shabby, much to our surprise – but we can imagine it being very useful in many fields

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The Fitzkrieg reaches Darwin: Honest History and Peter FitzSimons

The Northern Territory government was pleased to welcome leading ‘storian (his term), Peter FitzSimons to Darwin for the weekend’s commemoration of the bombing of that city in 1942. This was of interest to Honest History, since we had put up

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Advance praise for The Honest History Book (to be published by NewSouth in April 2017)

‘This is collective history at its finest.’  (Melanie Oppenheimer, Flinders University) What people are saying about The Honest History Book ‘[A] series of compelling, highly readable essays by some of Australia’s most distinguished historians.’ (Michelle Arrow, Macquarie University) ‘[A] primer

Sydney University graduate (and writer for Honest History) appointed Executive Director of Toynbee Prize Foundation

Aden Knaap, a graduate in History and Law from the University of Sydney and now a PhD student and Knox Fellow at Harvard University, has been elected Executive Director of the Toynbee Prize Foundation. The Toynbee Prize was established to

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Keeping up with The Conversation: wide selection as Parliament returns

Whether your problem is the return to school last week or the return of Federal Parliament this week, President Trump being erratic or AFLW making a splash, if one needs distractions there seems to be more to read at the

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Recently on the Honest History site (7 February 2017)

Since our last newsletter in December, the Honest History team has been heavily invested in The Honest History Book but we have still found time to update the website regularly with links to useful resources, as well as the occasional

Professor Frank Bongiorno is the new President of the Honest History association

Professor Frank Bongiorno of the Australian National University is the new president of the Honest History association. Frank is Professor of History at the ANU and has previously held appointments at Kings College London and the University of New England.

Five recent pieces of direct relevance to Australia – and the rest of the world

We at Honest History have been working hard to get the corrected proofs of The Honest History Book off to the publisher. We have also been trying, however, to keep up with world events because, even more than is normally

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An offering for the Inauguration of the 45th President of the United States: Professor Harry Frankfurt on the nature of bullshit

Update 27 January 2017: Norman Abjorensen in Inside Story looks at the long history of post-truth politics. This is good also, from Rod Tiffen in Inside Story. And US academic Lauren Griffin (The Conversation US) applies Frankfurt to today’s reality.

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Tillerson takes the helm in Foggy Bottom: three commentaries not from the mainstream media

Updated 20 January 2017 From the same Pearls and Irritations blog as the items below and on related subjects are former diplomats Richard Butler on Trump and nuclear weapons and Mack Williams on the South China Sea. (Butler is one

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Death of eminent Australian historian, Jill Roe

Emeritus Professor Jill Roe AO died last week after a long illness. She was 76. Death and funeral notices are here along with a condolence book. An obituary by Daniela Torsh. A note from the History Council of NSW. Biography

Economist Ian McAuley on Brexit, Trump and the Lucky Country: new series on Pearls and Irritations blog

The Pearls and Irritations blog is always worth following for thoughtful explications of current issues, ones which the mainstream media mostly no longer has the resources or patience to run. Today, P&I publishes nine articles (introduction plus eight) by economist

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MYEFO impacts on cultural institutions – but still some mystery about what War Memorial money is for

The Mid-Year Economic and Financial Outlook (MYEFO) statement came out this week and included these paragraphs relevant to national cultural institutions: The Government will provide $20.4 million over five years from the Public Service Modernisation Fund — Agency Sustainability Stream

Season’s greetings to all from Honest History

Festive greetings seem a mite incongruous in light of recent events in Berlin and Ankara and Aleppo (and in many less well reported locations) but we will pass them on anyway in the hope that they may add to the

More from Pearls and Irritations on saying ‘No’ to the United States

This is our second post recently on this topic. (The first was here.) We have made a point of linking to the Pearls and Irritations blog because, unlike much of the mainstream media, it is trying to probe the implications

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Frank Bongiorno wins ACT Book of the Year Award for The Eighties

Frank Bongiorno, Associate Professor of History at ANU (and one of Honest History’s distinguished supporters) has been announced as the winner of the ACT Book of the Year Award for his book The Eighties: The Decade that Transformed Australia. Congratulations,

Silent Centenary: Australian voices questioning the war of 1914-18

Our regular correspondent, singer-songwriter, Tony Smith, has sent us a CD wrangled by himself and musical and poetical colleagues. It is called ‘Silent Centenary: Australian voices questioning the war of 1914-18’. It includes a mixture of sung songs, recited poems,

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Saying ‘No’ to the United States: new material on non-MSM Pearls and Irritations blog

Honest History is always ready to publicise material from the feisty Pearls and Irritations blog wrangled by former senior public servant and diplomat, John Menadue. Pearls and Irritations has guest blogs from many former senior players in government and academia

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Recently on the Honest History site (13 December 2016)

As in recent months, we have been pushing quite a lot of material through the site, both commissioned work and links to other sources. Under our Top recent posts thumbnail you can find, for example, commissioned reviews of books on

Donate to the UNSW Press Literary Fund

Below is a link to information about the UNSW Press Literary Fund. Donations to the Fund support all books published by NewSouth, including The Honest History Book, and are tax deductible. If you donate to the Fund we would love

Five from the Pearls and Irritations blog: China, Trump, our out of touch MSM

Honest History’s distinguished supporter, John Menadue, continues to add solid content to his Pearls and Irritations blog, both his own articles, guest bloggers and material reproduced from other sources. Apart from the important submission on foreign policy, this week’s new

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While we are on the subject: four articles on aspects of democracy – and its possible future currency

Last Sunday we put up a post riffing off four articles which said something about the nature of politics. Without exactly saying so, we were talking about democratic politics and about how it can be a long, hard slog. We

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Death of Dr Sigrid McCausland

Honest History notes with regret the death of one of our Brisbane supporters, Dr Sigrid McCausland. Sigrid had been ill for some time. Sigrid had been a senior archivist in Canberra and president of the ACT Branch of the Labour

Minister releases preliminary results of study into veterans’ suicide; but are priorities still skewed?

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan (with Health Minister Ley) has released preliminary results of a study of suicide by Australian veterans. Key findings are as follows: ● there were 292 deaths by suicide among people with at least one

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Australian War Memorial opens permanent display on Holocaust

The Australian War Memorial has opened a permanent display on the Holocaust. (SBS report.) The exhibition, The Holocaust: Witnesses and Survivors, builds on the memories of 30 000 Holocaust survivors who made their homes in Australia after World War II.

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Pearls and Irritations experts ask where are we going with ANZUS now that Trump towers: more than you get on MSM

Pearls and Irritations is a blog wrangled by former senior public servant John Menadue, with the help of some knowledgeable guest writers. It has a new series entitled ‘Quo vadis and ANZUS’. ‘Quo vadis?’, for those who have no Latin

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Pearls and Irritations blog provides non-MSM views of Trump

John Menadue’s blog, Pearls and Irritations, has the following: Allan Patience on the failure of neo-liberalism; Wayne Swan MP on the need to spread prosperity more widely; Andrew Farran on foreign policy implications; John Menadue and Mungo McCallum on general

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Catching up with The Conversation: five recent items on climate

The Conversation has become a well-used and high quality media outlet in Australia. It presents topical, usually succinct pieces by writers who have at least a nominal academic affiliation. It now has overseas editions. Its rules about reposting are generous

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Recent posts on the Honest History site (11 November 2016)

We continue to move posts quickly through the site, mainly because we have become information-brokers (linking to useful resources within our areas of interest) as well as creators of original material. Readers can catch up with recent additions under our

Donalds are Trumps: going deeper after the breast-beating

There is so much being said on the US election result that we are not going to add to it (yet). Except to say three things: roughly half of eligible Americans did not vote; roughly a quarter of eligible Americans

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Worried about Russia? Four recent articles provide food for thought – for Australians, too

Thoughtful Australians have been keeping an eye on the South China Sea for some time. Honest History has tried to keep up. Today, it’s worth cocking an eye towards Russia also, more than a century after Australians watched the then

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Australian War Memorial Annual Report, another new exhibition and Story Time

The Australian War Memorial’s Annual Report 2015-16 is now available on the Memorial’s website. From our quick look the Memorial’s overall visitor numbers seem much the same as last year though there are the usual quirks in measurement which mean

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Veterans’ Affairs team visits Estimates Committee for another round

Last week, the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee hosted a phalanx of officers from the Defence portfolio which included, as usual, a team from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and a smaller team from the Australian War Memorial.

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Possibly coming to a theatre near you: a movie about the Armenian Genocide

The Promise is a new movie about the Armenian Genocide. Directed by Terry George, starring Oscar Isaac, Christian Bale and Charlotte Le Bon, it has been expensive to produce and is now facing distribution issues in the United States, partly

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Conscription plebiscite centenary in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra

Those who follow only the official Great War centenary bandwagon may not be keeping up with commemoration of events on the home front. Next Friday, 28 October, is the centenary of the first conscription referendum (technically a plebiscite) and events

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Honest History scales Capital Hill and reaches the Netherlands

Australian MPs and Senators get Information Kits done for them by the Parliamentary Library. One such is headed ‘Anzac Day 2016’ and we have just discovered it. Right down the bottom of Section 2 ‘The relevance of Anzac’ is this

Recently on the Honest History site (11 October 2016)

The Honest History site continually tries to source significant material within our areas of interest and to post links accordingly. (We also commission lots of original material.) If readers need to know more about what our areas of interest are,

Pearls and Irritations an antidote to Main Stream Media: asylum seekers, SA outage, submarines, CEO remuneration and other matters

John Menadue’s blog Pearls and Irritations continues to canvass a wide range of issues with a large collection of writers and usually from a different angle than is occupied by the remains of the Main Stream Media. In the latest

Death of Professor John Mulvaney, father of Australian archaeology

Emeritus Professor John Mulvaney died yesterday in Canberra, aged 90. He was known as ‘the father of Australian archaelogy’, particularly because of his pioneering work on Indigenous Australia. An ABC News item on John Mulvaney and a collection of tweets

Essential poll on banning Muslim immigration and listening to Pauline Hanson

The Essential Report poll on attitudes to Muslim migration is here, along with responses to questions about Pauline Hanson. One thousand people were polled. The poll was run in August and re-run in case it was a ‘rogue’. Key responses

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Port of Melbourne pictures just the tip of the photographic iceberg

Photo credit for home page, 23 September. The port of Melbourne has been leased for a lot of money. This provoked the Melbourne Age to run a set of photographs of the port, dating back well into the 19th century.

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Now this is a Maiden Speech: Senator Malarndirri McCarthy (ALP, Northern Territory)

Senator McCarthy’s speech brings together the stories of Indigenous Australia – the Senator is Yanyuwa, Garrwa, Mara and Kudanji – and settler Australia – her McCarthy ancestors came from Ireland in 1842. A great read and a great listen (30

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Honest History distinguished supporter Stuart Macintyre wins NSW Premier’s History Award

One of Honest History’s distinguished supporters, Stuart Macintyre, has won the New South Wales Premier’s History Award for his book Australia’s Boldest Experiment: War and Reconstruction in the 1940s. Last year’s winner of this award, Joan Beaumont, is also a

Concerning the proposed foreign policy White Paper: Alison Broinowski, Richard Woolcott, John Menadue, James Cogan

Australia has not had many foreign policy White Papers, though we have had a lot of Defence White Papers. There may be some significance in this. The recent announcement from the Foreign Minister  provoked some responses to add to the

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Six of the best: recent posts on the future of history

Earlier this week we posted Neville Buch’s piece, ‘Do professional historians have a future?’ It has been very popular, with hundreds of views already. Serendipitously, blogs and online sources have thrown up lots of related material. Swansea University historian of

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Moore, Bruce: Anzackery and other Australianisms: Australian National Dictionary second edition

Bruce Moore ‘Anzackery and other Australianisms: Australian National Dictionary second edition’, Honest History, 30 August 2016 The first edition of this dictionary came out in 1988 in one volume. Now there is a two volume second edition. Chief Editor Bruce

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Hell No! We Won’t Go anti-conscription project goes to the Australian War Memorial

Australia’s Vietnam War had many facets, some of which we explored in our recent Honest History series. One of these facets, local Australian opposition to the war and to conscription, gets some coverage in the galleries at the Australian War

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Australia’s Vietnam War in context – and other recent posts on Honest History

We have recently run a series called ‘Australia’s Vietnam War – and keeping it in context’. The series proved popular and timely, given the issues over the Long Tan commemoration and the official blind spots regarding aspects of the war

Death of distinguished military historian, Professor Jeffrey Grey of UNSW Canberra

Honest History records with sadness the death last week of Professor Jeffrey Grey of the Australian Centre for the Study of Armed Conflict and Society, Australian Defence Force Academy School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of New South Wales

Lone Pine commemorative service will not be held this year

A media release today from Minister Tehan advises that the annual Lone Pine commemorative service, scheduled for 6 August, will not proceed this year. This follows discussions with the Turkish Government. Private visits on 6 August will still be possible

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Richard Butler AC becomes distinguished supporter of Honest History

Honest History is pleased that Richard Butler AC has agreed to become one of Honest History’s distinguished supporters. Mr Butler is a former senior diplomat, United Nations official and Governor of Tasmania. 25 July 2016

Know any bushrangers whose stories should be told but haven’t been?

Meg Foster is currently a PhD Candidate in history at the University of New South Wales. She is working on a project called ‘The “other” bushrangers’, investigating the impact of bushrangers (those of them who were not white men) on

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Warren Snowdon MP returns to Centenary of Anzac job in Labor shadow ministry

Warren Snowdon, MP for Lingiari in the Northern Territory, has been appointed Shadow Assistant Minister for the Centenary of Anzac. He had responsibility for this area in the most recent Labor government. The Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs is Amanda

HILDA tells an Australian story about wealth and poverty – and there is an international angle as well

HILDA stands for the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey and it has been run by the Melbourne Institute since 2001. It is one of many surveys and studies reporting on inequality in Australia. Honest History has been

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Paul Daley’s The Hansard Monologues: Age of Entitlement coming soon

Paul Daley, author and journalist and one of Honest History’s distinguished supporters, has written The Hansard Monologues: Age of Entitlement, using only the actual words uttered by our elected representatives. It is being presented at two locations in Sydney, in

Pearls and Irritations posts on foreign policy and going to war

John Menadue, one of Honest History’s distinguished supporters, and former senior public servant and diplomat, runs the Pearls and Irritations blog which has new posts on the South China Sea arbitration (Tony Kevin), how easily we in Australia go to

For those who came in late: recently on Honest History

We recall an old television or radio show which ended with the line ‘you have been watching, or you have just missed [name of show]’. This post serves the same purpose. Look out for these recent posts under the thumbnails

American historians use Facebook to blow the whistle on Donald Trump

A number of distinguished American historians, led by David McCullough (Truman, John Adams) and Ken Burns (The Civil War), have started a Facebook page to oppose the candidacy of Donald Trump. While the group is conscious of the need to

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Chilcot lessons for Australia as well as for powerful friends: Honest History miscellany

After seven years, Sir John Chilcot has reported on how the United Kingdom found itself in Iraq in 2003 and what it all meant. Chilcot’s report considers the actions and words of British Prime Minister Blair, United States President George

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Five uneasy pieces on the mainstream media and the election

Update 3 August 2016: Richard Denniss in The Monthly on Brexit, election, perceptions, the media and the whole damn thing. Update 22 July 2016: Sean Kelly in The Monthly Today on some of the issues below. ____________ The founder of

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Australian War Memorial Council prefers not to hear about Honest History’s Alternative Guide to the Memorial

On Anzac Day Honest History posted on our website our Alternative Guide to the Australian War Memorial. The Guide is intended for students from middle to senior Secondary level, for teachers and for members of the general public. Since Anzac

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The Resident Judge of Port Phillip journeys to AHA Ballarat

Update 8 July 2016: Janine has added some more about the next day of the Conference, covering papers on the Red Cross during World War I, Australian soldiers in the Boer War, museums, and living and dying. Of particular interest

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Wide-ranging AHA conference in Ballarat nicely captured from a distance via Tweets

Yvonne Perkins, who blogs as Stumbling through the Past, didn’t go to the Australian Historical Association conference in Ballarat this year but she is still keeping in touch by following and collating the Tweets coming out of it (#ozha2016). Yvonne’s

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From the Honest History archives: Do teachers have patriotic obligations?

‘From the Honest History archives: Do teachers have patriotic obligations? (May 2014)’, Honest History, 28 June 2016 As Honest History closes in on our 2000th post, we have found value in – and an interest from readers in – re-running

Canberra’s Demos is a newish and feisty online voice with wide-ranging content

Honest History is always on the lookout for media outlets which take a punt and launch into new territory, particularly if the venture looks professional and takes – or facilitates – firm, evidence-based positions. (We try to do a bit

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Vinnies CEO Sleepout again helps homeless, including veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq

The St Vincent de Paul Society (Vinnies) is again holding a CEO Sleepout to raise funds for homeless Australians. This year’s is on 23 June (except in Adelaide, where it has already happened). There is still (just) time to donate,

New anti-war song is counterpoint to War Memorial rejigging donations policy

There is an anti-war event in London this weekend, organised by the No Glory in War and Stop the War coalition. The event commemorates the Battle of the Somme. A feature will be the song ‘Dandelions’ by Steve Donoghue, the

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Honest History competition: win The Art of Time Travel by Tom Griffiths

Tom Griffiths‘ new book The Art of Time Travel: Historians and Their Craft is to be published by Black Inc. on 27 June. Update 26 October: our review of the book. Meanwhile, a fortunate mistake by the publisher means we

Two invasions in Australian history: can we now stop using euphemisms about 25 April 1915?

Both Prime Minister Turnbull and Opposition Leader Shorten have used the word ‘invasion’ to describe what happened in Australia in 1788. (They still differ over reconciling, recognising, and whether or not to have a treaty.) Now that we have bipartisan

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Honest history of massacres in the United States and Australia

Some reports of the Orlando massacre, horrible as it was, described it as the United States worst massacre (and again). It wasn’t, as Native Americans would know. Some reminiscences about the Port Arthur massacre, horrible as it was, described it

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James Brown’s Quarterly Essay, Firing Line: Australia’s Path to War, launching in June and July

James Brown’s Quarterly Essay, Firing Line: Australia’s Path to War, is launching during June and July in Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Sydney. Dates from 16 June and bookings are required in all venues. Details. James Brown investigates Australia at war.

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RSL members miffed as PM mentions Soldier On

The ABC has a story today that some RSL members who heard the prime minister’s speech to the RSL National Conference were upset that he mentioned the work of veterans’ organisation, Soldier On. A reading of the PM’s speech shows

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A quick skim through some subscription journals: review note

‘Review note: a quick skim through some subscription journals’, Honest History, 7 June 2016 updated Update 18 June 2016: Nicholas Farrelly and James Giggacher write in the Canberra Times about the history of their highly successful academic blog, New Mandala,

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Tendering for the knight: film-makers bid to document Sir John Monash for the green fields of France

Regular readers of Honest History will have followed our coverage of the proposed Sir John Monash Interpretive Centre to be built next to the Australian memorial at Villers-Bretonneux in France. We have described the Centre as a boastful Aussie boondoggle.

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Honest History’s Alternative Guide to the Australian War Memorial (and other recent posts)

On Anzac Day, Honest History posted our Alternative Guide to the Australian War Memorial. Six weeks later the Guide has been downloaded 1268 times and we suspect a good number of those downloads have been copied multiple times. We are

Coming up at the National Library, Canberra: sorting the past and imagining the future

Michael Piggott, National Library Fellow and Honest History Treasurer, is speaking at the National Library, Canberra, on 7 June on his work investigating the provenance of the manuscripts collected by Sir John Ferguson. Details (booking needed). Then, on 9 June,

Divided sunburnt country (1): Australia 1916-18: recruiting in Gippsland

This post is by way of being a ‘soft launch’ for a new Honest History series. We are using the series to explore a crucial question: whether what happened at home in Australia during the Great War was actually more

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National Library of Australia Magazine March 2016 edition

The National Library puts out a quarterly magazine. The March one (downloadable two ways or in hard copy at the Library) includes Kristen Alexander writing about her book on ‘aviatrix’ Lores Bonney, Honest History vice president, Alison Broinowski, on Norman

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Honest History sends copy of Alternative Guide to Australian War Memorial to every member of Memorial Council

Which word should we use to describe what happened on 25 April 1915: ‘landing’ or ‘invasion’? Why do we refer to dead soldiers as ‘the fallen’? Does the ‘freedom’ we are said to have fought for in our many wars

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A rectangular state of mind: Australian-American relations then and now – still soldiering on

Many years ago, President Lyndon Baines Johnson thought of Australia as ‘the next large rectangular state beyond El Paso‘. Other American presidents may have felt similarly and some Australian governments have done their best to reinforce this attitude – with,

War Memorial responds to Honest History questions about poppies

The Australian War Memorial has responded to questions from Honest History about the practice of placing red artificial poppies on exhibits at the Memorial. The response has been published unamended in our Centenary Watch column ahead of the original item

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Announcement of new appointments to Australian War Memorial Council

Update 11 May 2016: a spokesperson for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs has advised that Wing Commander Bown commences her term on 3 June 2016 and Corporal Keighran commences his term on 30 June 2016. Minister Tehan has announced the

Honest History distinguished supporters feature at Sydney Writers Festival

The Sydney Writers Festival is on again from 16 to 22 May in, naturally enough, Sydney (and environs). Among the people featuring are a number of Honest History’s distinguished supporters, Michelle Arrow, Frank Bongiorno, Anna Clark, Carolyn Holbrook (also committee

Professor Stuart Macintyre wins inaugural Ernest Scott Prize for Australia’s Boldest Experiment

Professor Stuart Macintyre of the University of Melbourne has been awarded the inaugural Ernest Scott Prize for his book Australia’s Boldest Experiment: War and Reconstruction in the 1940s. A review note of the book is here and there is also

Their Great War and ours: the commemorative view from Europe

There was an interesting presentation at UNSW Canberra yesterday from Professor Oliver Janz of the Free University of Berlin. It brought out some differences between the way World War I is being commemorated in Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

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Recently on Honest History: under our thumbnails

It is six weeks since our last newsletter and we have been busy. You can track much of what has appeared on the website during that time by scrolling down Top Recent Posts, Reviews and Features. Or look at the

From the Honest History Archives: Five arguments for downsizing Anzac

Added to our collection ‘From the Honest History Archives: five April takes on Anzac and Anzackery‘ is this article from March last year by David Stephens. It was originally published in Teaching History, the journal of the History Teachers’ Association

From the Honest History Archives: Will you be whistling this sentimental ditty for Anzac Day 2016?

Added to our collection ‘From the Honest History Archives: five April takes on Anzac and Anzackery‘ is a link to extracts from a speech by Honest History committee member, Carolyn Holbrook, in Fremantle about this time last year. We noted

Stan Grant to head Referendum Council on Indigenous recognition

Stan Grant, Wiradjuri journalist, is to head the Referendum Council on Indigenous recognition in the Australian Constitution. He has been appointed by the prime minister and the leader of the opposition. He replaces Pat Dodson, who is becoming a Labor

Kaching! Another $5 million from corporates to the Anzac spend

The Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of Anzac, Dan Tehan, has announced a $5 million donation to the Anzac Centenary Public Fund from Suncorp, one of Australia’s largest financial services companies. The money will go towards refurbishing

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Frontier Wars commemoration in Canberra in Anzac Week

There will be a number of Frontier Wars-related events in Canberra in the week leading up to Anzac Day: Frontier Wars Story Camp 2016, 18-24 April at the Aboriginal Embassy (details on Facebook; flyer); Dr Libby Connors, University of Southern

From the Honest History Archives: Douglas Newton unpicks the Great War

Added to our collection ‘From the Honest History Archives: five April takes on Anzac and Anzackery‘ is one of two forensic speeches by historian Douglas Newton in Anzac Week 2015. The speech covers respect for the dead, what Anzac commemorations

SBS and ‘Anzac tweets’ reporter resolve dispute

SBS has resolved its dispute with former sports reporter, Scott McIntyre, who was sacked in 2015 after tweeting a number of comments on Anzac commemoration. The settlement terms were confidential. More. Still more. McIntyre is still without a job. Some

Labor call for banking Royal Commission has historical echoes aplenty

Update December 2017: a Royal Commission of a different feather is announced. Update June-September 2016: more from Humphrey McQueen and others. Update 9 April 2016: updated article on Pearls and Irritation website. ______________ Opposition Leader Shorten has called for a

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From the Honest History Archives: Genevieve Jacobs’ elegiac ‘Anzac Day at Wallendbeen’

Added to our collection ‘From the Honest History Archives: five April takes on Anzac and Anzackery‘ is the 2014 Anzac Day address at Wallendbeen by Genevieve Jacobs, local resident, ABC Canberra presenter and host of the regular Honest History spot

Protest at Turkish government treatment of dissidents

Updated 8 April 2016: John Tulloh, former foreign editor, makes a useful point at the beginning of a piece in Pearls and Irritations on current Turkish politics: It is the time of the year when we have our annual bout

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Congratulations to Honest History distinguished supporters shortlisted for Ernest Scott Prize

Stuart Macintyre of the University of Melbourne and Frank Bongiorno of the Australian National University are among the authors shortlisted for the Ernest Scott Prize for 2016, awarded by the Australian Historical Association. Professor Macintyre (shortlisted for Australia’s Boldest Experiment)

Terrorism reprise in the wake of Belgian attacks and Lindt inquest: resources from the Honest History vault

We thought it would be useful today to bring out of the vault a collection we put together about a year ago on background to the then new anti-terrorism laws. It hangs off a review by Jeff Sparrow of a

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Many more Kiwis at Gallipoli than previously thought

New evidence uncovered in New Zealand strongly suggests twice as many New Zealanders served in the Dardanelles campaign than has previously been thought. Research by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and the New Zealand Defence Force shows more than

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In case you missed them: recent posts on the Honest History site

It is six weeks since our last newsletter and we have been busy. You can track much of what has appeared on the website during that time by scrolling down Top recent posts, Reviews and Features. Or look at the

Doing interesting history and want a gig on ABC Radio?

For two years now, Honest History and ABC Local Radio Canberra 666 and online across Australia have been co-operating in a fortnightly spot on Tuesday mornings. Honest History finds the talent and presenter Genevieve Jacobs makes the final pick and

Four reasons why the National Library of Australia is so valuable to Australia and Australians

The first three entries below are cut-and-pasted (with permission) from the Petherick Reading Room newsletter put out by the Library to Petherick readers. The fourth entry introduces to Trove those who do not know of it – or reminds those

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PM’s remembrance rhetoric and alleged DVA performance: a fascinating juxtaposition

Two events in the last week juxtaposed enlightened commemorative rhetoric and complaints about bureaucracy. The rhetoric came from the prime minister on 26 February, opening the new Soldier On Robert Poate Reintegration and Recovery Centre in Canberra. It is critical

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New Minister gets (smaller) commemoration bandwagon rolling

The latest Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of Anzac, Dan Tehan MP, was on his feet today in the Parliament taking note of the 25th anniversary of the end of the Gulf War in 1991 and setting

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In the wake of the White Paper: does arms spending lead to war?

With the release of the Defence White Paper today, we are reposting a paper that we first posted in November 2014. The paper asks the question, ‘Does arms spending lead to war?’ The summary of our paper is here and

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Illogical two per centers still thrive in defence spend debate

Ahead of tomorrow’s release of the Defence White Paper we have this from the prime minister: Defence spending will reach 2% of Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP), the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed, sticking with a commitment made by his predecessor,

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Bombing of Darwin remembered – in context

Update 10 March 2016: a new book by Brett Bowden on the bombing of Darwin. The new Minister for the Centenary of Anzac, Dan Tehan MP, has issued his first media release. It marks the 74th anniversary today of the

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Dan Tehan MP takes on Veterans and Anzac centenary jobs

The Prime Minister has announced his ministerial reshuffle. Dan Tehan, Liberal Member for Wannon in Western Victoria, is to be Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of Anzac. (The PM said ‘Veterans Services’

Could Veterans’ Affairs portfolio changes follow departure of Minister?

Stuart Robert MP, the Minister for Human Services, Veterans’ Affairs and Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of Anzac is leaving the Ministry. While the departure of the Minister arises from matters unconnected with his current three jobs, it

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Decimal currency came in 50 years ago and some of us have never got the song out of our heads

‘On the fourteenth of February, 1966 …’. The TV advertisement which softened us up for the change. That wretched song and a didactic dollar bill (the tune is ‘Click go the shears’ for those who do not recognise it). Someone

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Stuart Robert and Honest History: juggling responsibilities 2015-16

Update 12 February 2016: will the departure of the Minister lead to a machinery of government change affecting Veterans’ Affairs? _____________________ Honest History has ‘crossed paths’ with Minister Robert a number of times since September last year, when he took

Craig Stockings appointed as official historian for Iraq, Afghanistan and East Timor

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of Anzac, the Hon. Stuart Robert MP, has announced the appointment of Dr Craig Stockings of UNSW Canberra as the Official Historian for the engagements in Iraq,

Fitzkrieg halted at New Directions in War and History Conference, Canberra

About 70 people attended this conference at ANU on 4-5 February, jointly run by the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at ANU and the Australian Centre for the Study of Armed Conflict and Society at UNSW Canberra. Front-line conference wranglers

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For those who just came back: recent Honest History highlights

Honest History has been working (at slightly reduced capacity) over the Christmas and New Year holidays. You can track much of what has appeared on the website during that time by scrolling down Top recent posts, Reviews and Features. Look

Five (now nine) links to finish off Australia Day – but no fireworks

Update: 27 January 2016 More came through today on Australia Day and related matters. There was: a video on Guardian Australia of Indigenous protest rallies to mark Invasion Day; a music critic, Andy Hazel, punting for 12 ‘classic’ Australian songs

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Brendan Nelson awarded AO in Australia Day honours

The Director of the Australian War Memorial, Dr Brendan Nelson, has been made an Officer of the Order of Australia in the Australia Day honours. Dr Nelson’s award is for service to the Parliament of Australia, to the community, to

David Morrison Australian of the Year speeches on Honest History site

David Morrison, formerly Chief of Army and now Australian of the Year 2016 and head of Diversity Council Australia, has made a number of speeches in recent years: March 2013 UN speech on sexism in the Australian Defence Force (with

Stan Grant speech on racism and the Australian Dream gets a well-deserved run for Australia Day

As reported in Guardian Australia (and in the Sydney Morning Herald and Junkee) going viral today is a You Tube video of a great speech made by Indigenous journalist Stan Grant in a debate in Sydney. Grant argues for the

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

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:

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Turkish associate of Honest History is studying Gallipoli themes

Dr Burcin Cakir is a Turkish post-doctoral student and an associate of Honest History who is working on Turkish materials relating to the Gallipoli campaign and its aftermath. She has a book in the works on memory and commemoration of

Villers-Bretonneux boondoggle construction contract announced

Update 26 December 2015. It is interesting that the Minister’s media release says nothing about the cost of the project ($A100m) but mentions employment and investment benefits in Picardy, France, where the project is located. Meanwhile, the Minister’s announcement has

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World War I internment case rings ‘national security’ bells today

What happens in Marrickville today would have been of interest to the enforcers of the War Precautions Act 1914 had it happened a century ago. Sunday, 22 November 2015, saw the Gallipoli Centenary Peace Campaign (GCPC) and St Brigid’s Parish

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Former Anzac centenary minister Ronno to resign; ex-Digger to head War Graves

Ronno pulls the plug Victorian Senator Michael Ronaldson is to resign from Parliament. The former Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of Anzac (and Special Minister of State) announced his intentions today. Honest

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Help compile a list of deaths from UK nuclear testing in Australia 1952-73

Part of Australia’s history that is still being uncovered is the incidence and effect of nuclear testing by the United Kingdom government (with the support of the Australian government) in remote parts of Australia in the 1950s and 1960s. No-one

Villers-Bretonneux boondoggle survives blunt Budget axe

The annual Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) has been released, along with the list of Budget tweaks. The Treasurer claimed $10.6 billion in savings, offset by $10.2 billion in new spending since the May Budget, which amounts to net

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PM’s Prize for Australian History 2015

The Prime Minister’s Literary Awards for 2015 have been announced, including the PM’s Prize for Australian History. The history prize was shared (as in 2014) this time between Ross Coulthart for his Charles Bean and David Horner for The Spy

Film and TV rights for Forgotten Rebels of Eureka

Last week we had the 161st anniversary of Eureka. This week there is the news that Ruby Entertainment has optioned the film and television rights for Clare Wright’s book The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka. The details are here and here.

Minister tweets a response to Honest History post

We don’t often get public responses from government (though we see evidence from time to time of official attitudes to our work – there’s a list below) so it was nice to hear from the Hon. Stuart Robert MP, Minister for

Carolyn Holbrook joins Honest History committee

Dr Carolyn Holbrook, author of Anzac: The Unauthorised Biography has joined the committee of Honest History Incorporated. Dr Holbrook is a Research Fellow at Monash University, working with Professor James Walter on a history of Australian policy-making. Her Anzac book

Honest History’s website has been tweaked

November 2015 marked two years since the Honest History website was launched by journalist and author, Paul Daley. To mark this anniversary, we have made some changes to the look of our home page. There is less text but more

Do we really have an ‘egalitarian, fair-go culture’?

Last night the prime minister told Leigh Sales on 7.30 that Australia had a ‘strong, egalitarian, fair-go culture’ and that whatever was done with tax reform had to fit with that culture. Is the prime minister too boffo about our

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Honest History committee 2015-16

The Annual General Meeting of Honest History Incorporated was held on 19 November. All committee members, except Professor Melanie Oppenheimer, were available to continue in 2015-16 and were duly nominated and elected. A motion was passed thanking Professor Oppenheimer for

Anzac, Lest We Forget feature in Reclaim Australia rallies

Small Reclaim Australia rallies in a number of centres at the weekend were notable for featuring Anzac-related slogans and flags. At Melton, near Melbourne, Reclaim Australia demonstrators carried a banner bearing poppies, silhouettes of marching troops and the words ‘Lest

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Perfumier and charity stay mum on donations

Honest History has received confirmation from MSF Sweden that they have a ‘collaboration’ with perfumier Byredo on the Rose of No Man’s Land product. Neither MSF nor Byredo have said what proportion of the profits is being donated. The fragrance

Kerry Stokes to chair War Memorial Council

Tycoon and philanthropist Kerry Stokes has been appointed as Chair of the Council of the Australian War Memorial. Mr Stokes was recently elected to the position by his fellow Council members, replacing Rear Admiral Ken Doolan, who had served for

New movie to help traumatised veterans

Jeremy Lindsay Taylor and Sarah Snook are to star in a new film by Jennifer Perrott, the proceeds from which will go to help veterans suffering from PTSD. The short film is called The Ravens and Nick Galvin writes about

100 Great War stories book well and truly launched

World War One: a History in 100 Stories has been written by Bruce Scates, professor at Monash, and Monash PhD students Rebecca Wheatley and Laura James, but the clearest message that emerged from its launch this evening in Melbourne was

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A building, a book launch and Berlin: Remembrance 2015

Remembrance Day is on Wednesday. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs is marking remembrance with a massive poppy in the windows of its Canberra building, Lovett Tower. It is a simple but imaginative gesture. The Department’s Dave Chalmers, speaking this morning

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Filling the policy vacuum: Menadue-M. Keating book launch

Today saw the launch by Ross Gittins of a collection of articles on potential new policy directions for Australia. The articles originally appeared on John Menadue’s blog, Pearls and Irritations, and a number of them were linked from Honest History.

Inequality becoming a bigger issue for Australians

We noted the latest Scanlon Foundation Social Cohesion Survey report. There was an interesting result on this question at page 44 of the report: ‘In Australia today, the gap between those with high incomes and those with low incomes is too large’. Of respondents

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Tony Abbott 2015 and Enoch Powell 1968: compare and contrast

Readers of a certain age and erudition will be aware of the ‘rivers of blood’ speech by senior British Conservative, Enoch Powell, in 1968. Powell warned of the dangers of ‘coloured’ and ‘Negro’ immigration to Britain. He was dismissed from

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Another sniff at Rose of No Man’s Land

For those who want to splash out: 100 ml of Rose of No Man’s Land will cost you a smidgen over $A300 ($US200) and 50 ml will cost you around $A200 ($US145). For our earlier kicking up a stink on

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Another Monash juggernaut rolls across Northern France: boondoggle update

Lots of things happen late at night in Parliament House, Canberra: destructive testing of furniture; plotting against leaders; inappropriate propositions in the private dining rooms. And Additional Estimates hearings by Senate Committees. Typically, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the

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From machine-gun pits to intimate bits: Rose of No Man’s Land perfume

Update 13 November 2015: questions remain about the proportion of profits going to charity, though MSF Sweden has confirmed there is a ‘collaboration’. Update 10 November 2015: Fairfax columnist Ian Warden has been advised by perfume blogger Jessica that the

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Honest History VP Alison Broinowski on QandA tonight

Honest History vice president Alison Broinowski will be a panellist on the ABC’s QandA this evening at 9.35 pm Eastern. Other panellists are former foreign minister Bob Carr, the Lowy Institute’s Michael Fullilove, Emily Howie from the Human Rights Law

ABC re-running Lest We Forget What? education pieces for schools during November

During November ABC TV Education is re-running the education pieces spun off the excellent doco Lest We Forget What? with presenter Kate Aubusson and historians Joan Beaumont and Robin Prior. The doco was an eye-opener when first shown in April

40 years since Balibo: role of war correspondents highlighted

The ABC among other outlets runs a piece today on the 40th anniversary of the deaths of the Balibo Five, working journalists (Gary Cunningham, Brian Peters, Malcolm Rennie, Greg Shackleton, Tony Stewart) taken out by Indonesian special forces in East

Morrison, Nelson nominated as ACT Australian of the Year

Update 3 November 2015: and the winner is … General Morrison. Congratulations to him. Former Chief of Army, David Morrison, and current Australian War Memorial Director-General, Brendan Nelson, are among ACT nominees for Australian of the Year. Honest History congratulates

Live tweeting The Dismissal at MOADOPH

Starting today and running till 11 November, the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, Canberra, with the assistance of journalist and author Paul Daley, is live tweeting the events leading up to the dismissal of the Whitlam Government

Change and continuity at Honest History

‘Change and continuity at Honest History’, Honest History, 13 October 2015 There are some changes under way at Honest History, leading up to the second anniversary of our website early in November. But there is continuity as well. Let us

Carolyn Holbrook’s Queensland prize

Congratulations to Honest History distinguished supporter, Carolyn Holbrook, who has won a 2015 Queensland Literary Award for her book, Anzac: The Unauthorised Biography. The book won the University of Southern Queensland History Book Award, worth $10 000. The thesis on

Gideon Haigh is distinguished supporter of Honest History

Australian author and commentator, Gideon Haigh, has agreed to become a distinguished supporter of Honest History. Gideon has written more than 30 books, on subjects ranging from cricket to the car industry and from digital media to working in offices.

Adelaide prepares for the first Anzac Day, 1915

Today it is exactly 100 years since a notice appeared on page 2 of The Register, an Adelaide newspaper. The notice commenced: ANZAC DAY IMPORTANT PUBLIC NOTICE CERTAIN MISLEADING STATEMENTS have been circulated regarding the objects of the Anzac Day

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Inequality news keeps breaking over our ‘egalitarian’ homeland

The excellent online publication The Conversation provides an opportunity for academics of sprightly mind to engage in evidence-based public debate and get their views to a large, mostly non-academic audience. (Audience figures here are not too shabby, with a claim

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Big Ideas on ABC RN Monday features ‘defining moments’

Honest History went along last evening to a session at the National Museum of Australia on its ‘Defining Moments’ project. We have followed this initiative closely – partly because of the way it contrasts with the narrowly conservative interpretation of

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War correspondents: Canberra memorial; resources on HH site

Update 25 October 2015: extract from Jeannine Baker’s Australian Women War Reporters: Boer War to Vietnam Update 26 September 2015: more from Nicholas Stuart and Gai Brodtmann MP. Update 25 September 2015: Helen Vatsikopoulos writes. A cheeky reflection from Mark

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Infrastructure development in South China Sea

Honest History has followed intermittently developments in the South China Sea, partly because of their potential to escalate but also because of the echoes they evoke of long-standing Australian attitudes to Asia and long-standing Australian concerns to ensure we benefit

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Liberals’ Nikolic whip back on shelf

One of Honest History’s closest followers in Federal Parliament, Andrew Nikolic, MP for the Tasmanian seat of Bass, has lost his position as Deputy Liberal Party Whip, following the change of Liberal leadership. Honest History would have liked to send

Ministerial reshuffle leaves Anzac centenary minister out of a job

Update 21 September 2015: farewell media release from Senator Ronaldson. Prime Minister Turnbull’s new ministry does not include Senator Michael Ronaldson, formerly Miniser for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of Anzac. The prime minister

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War powers reform seminar next month in Canberra

New prime minister, new war, old war powers, a long history of Australian involvement in wars. Time for a change? Friday, 23 October, sees an all day seminar at the Australian National University, Canberra, on Legislating reform of the war

Defining Moments in Australian history: events at National Museum

Honest History has been a fan of the Defining Moments project at the National Museum of Australia. We are pleased to see a program of events around Defining Moments is getting under way in Canberra next week, 24 September, with

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Commemoration focus shifting, says Minister

Not the most memorable output from Parliament House today, but worth noting nevertheless, was a media release from Minister for the Centenary of Anzac, Senator Michael Ronaldson, entitled ‘Funding round opens for Vietnam War Commemorative Grants’. The release provided details

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World War I: a history in 100 stories

Honest History is pleased to mark two important stages in a project it has been following for more than two years, 100 Stories, wrangled from Monash University by Professor Bruce Scates and his team. First, from 12 October, an online

National duty of care neglected on repatriation records

Professor Bruce Scates of Monash University points out that only five per cent of the cost of digitising the World War I repatriation files has been found as part of Australia’s Anzac commemoration budget. ‘One thing is without dispute about

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Syrian action needs reconsideration, says war powers reform group

Update 11 September 2015: Senator Ludlam speaks Greens Senator Scott Ludlam (WA) makes the case for Parliament having a role in decisions to go to war. Update 6 September 2015: Alison Broinowski writes Alison Broinowski, Honest History vice president and

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Honest History evidence on Anzac centenary splurge featured in News Limited

Ian McPhedran’s article on the News website ‘Government spending more than $8800 for every digger killed during WW1‘ draws upon material on the Honest History site about commemoration spending (especially here and here) and quotes Honest History’s David Stephens along

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Memorial to acknowledge families affected by war

The Canberra Times reports progress on a plan to erect in the grounds of the Australian War Memorial a shrine or monument to the families of Australian service personnel. Public and corporate donations will be sought. The leader of the

Honest History needs your money (in modest amounts)

If, as a loyal supporter of the Honest History enterprise, you have not yet seen the way clear to make a modest donation to the venture, we would love to take some of your money. We are pushed along entirely

Foreign policy veterans weigh in on Syria commitment

John Menadue’s blog, Pearls and Irritations, contains three articles on developments in Syria. Former secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Stuart Harris, believes Australia should turn down the United States request to join in airstrikes. Former Ambassador to the

War propaganda for children should not win prizes: Honest History media release 21 August 2015

Update 24 August 2015: ABC report ‘It is disgraceful that a piece of sanitised war propaganda has won a Children’s Book Council Award’, the Honest History coalition said today. ‘Giving a prize to the book Audacity endorses promotional material from

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Another August anniversary – Trotsky 75

Less marked in Australia but nevertheless significant in the sweep of world history is the 75th anniversary of the assassination of Trotsky in Mexico, 20 August 2015. An important figure in Soviet Russia in the earlier years after the 1917

Researchers wanted for work on repatriation files

University of Melbourne Professor, Janet McCalman, is wrangling an important research project on the repatriation records of the First AIF. She talked about the project to Geraldine Doogue on the ABC. Called Diggers to Veterans: Risk, Resilience and Recovery in

Dunera boys 75th anniversary reunion at Hay, NSW, 4-6 September

An important episode of Australia’s wartime history remembered again at Hay, where the Dunera boys were first sent after arrival in Australia. Details are in our What’s On information, look under Hay, NSW. The Dunera Association in conjunction with Dunera

Two interesting September seminars in Sydney and Melbourne

Springtime it seems to bring on the seminars. In Sydney on 8 September there is an all day session at the State Library on public and popular histories of Anzac. So what do ordinary Australians think about Anzac? What sorts

Humphrey McQueen’s archive: an offer from Honest History

Alert readers will have noticed (and many will have read) our offerings over the last few months from the archives of noted Australian historian, Humphrey McQueen. Some time ago, Humphrey made available to us much of his out-of-copyright material, some

Australian-Armenian connections recalled by new effort

Australian-Armenian man Sassoon Grigorian is going on a charity walk to Mount Ararat in Turkey to raise money for Syrian refugees of Armenian background. This effort recalls a history of Australian assistance to people in the origin, dating back to

Some non-MSM media takes on Goodes are worth reading

We hope that both The Monthly Today and The Conversation are these days getting more readers than the venerable organs (or the organs owned by the venerable) but, just in case you missed them, here are links to Sean Kelly

Labor Herald unfolds again

One of the recurring themes of Australian political history has been the rise and fall of Labour newspapers. The ALP has relaunched the Labor Herald as an online journal, a few years after its previous incarnation was executed or fell

Weary Dunlop Appeal for veterans’ medical research

Minister Ronaldson has publicised the annual fundraising appeal for the Weary Dunlop Foundation. Honest History is making a modest donation to the appeal. The Foundation focuses on the prevention and treatment of illnesses affecting veterans and their families. The appeal

Another look at Vietnam War medical history

The Australian War Memorial has announced that a further volume is to be produced on the medical aspects of the Vietnam War, with particular reference to the effects of Agent Orange, the chemical defoliant alleged to have affected the health

Policy vacuum filled on Pearls and Irritations blog

Former senior Commonwealth public servants, John Menadue and Michael Keating, have completed their wrangling of a large collection of papers on policy options for Australia. The papers, produced by a number of distinguished authors, are to be published shortly in

Full text of Malcolm Turnbull Sydney Institute speech

Malcolm Turnbull’s website contains the full text of his speech last night to the Sydney Institute. There is also a pdf. The speech has been widely reported (Australian, ABC, Fairfax, Guardian). The speech is entitled ‘Magna Carta and the rule

Policy Pearls collection complete

John Menadue’s blog Pearls and Irritations has been assembling a collection of articles to fill the policy vacuum which many people believe exists in modern Australia. The collection is now complete. There are 49 articles in 15 policy areas from

War powers reform book launched

Update 13 August 2015: extracts in Pearls and Irritations John Menadue’s blog Pearls and Irritations reprints the chapters by Michael McKinley on ‘Alliance ideology, the myth of sacrifice and the national security culture‘ and the late Malcolm Fraser on ‘We

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Forgotten Australians survey seeks response from academic researchers in humanities

Dr Adele Chynoweth is a Visitor within ANU’s Centre for Heritage and Museum Studies and she is doing a survey as part of her research on the public history of Forgotten Australians. The survey is targeted at academic researchers in the

Commemoration wedging?

There has been a lot of discussion recently about whether one side of politics is trying to wedge the other on national security issues. For example, Jack Waterford in Fairfax: There has been nothing subtle about the innuendo that Labor

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Hume Council Ataturk plans discussed

The Hume Leader reports Honest History’s opinion that there is no evidence that Ataturk ever said the ‘Johnnies and Mehmets’ words attributed to him. Hume City Council plans to include the words on a memorial to be built in Broadmeadows.

Duelling Aussie museums at Villers-Bretonneux

We have tracked (particularly here under the heading Update 12 May) the government’s commitment to the wizzo new Sir John Monash Interpretive Centre (high tech museum) at Villers-Bretonneux. This project will cost nearly $A100 million, mostly from the coffers of

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How does Australia go to war? Book launch

How does Australia Go to War? is a new publication by Australians for War Powers Reform and it will be launched in Canberra on 24 June by Senator Scott Ludlam, Melissa Parke MP and Andrew Wilkie MP. The details of

Home page features – once and future

Assiduous followers of Honest History will know that we have links on our home page to sections of the site that we try to update reasonably regularly. Apart from the venerable ‘Centenary Watch‘, which we know is a favourite read

Selected missiles from no man’s land

Here is a miscellany of briefs from 2014-15, to stir up the entrenched and focus the mind. Click for links to Why whizzbangs, and our Newsletter archive (including Whizzbangs 2016+).

Australian National Dictionary has eyes on ‘Anzackery’

Amanda Laugesen, Director of the Australian National Dictionary Centre at the ANU, has a regular ‘Wordwatch’ column in the ANU Reporter. Her latest piece turns the spotlight on ‘Anzackery’. Dr Laugesen says the use of the word Anzackery reflects a

New direction at the Australian War Memorial?

A paragraph buried in a recent interview suggests there is more willingness at the Memorial to look beyond battles and burials, derring-do and dioramas. But will it be enough? Centenary Watch has more. 28 May 2015

More pearls on Menadue blog

John Menadue’s blog, Pearls and Irritations, continues to roll out thoughtful papers on policy options for Australia. There have been 20 or so papers already on democratic renewal, the role of government, foreign policy, the economy and retirement incomes, and

Ministerial error to be corrected

Unofficial advice from the Veteran’s Affairs portfolio is that the error in the ministerial statement on the centenary of Anzac will be corrected in the final version of the Senate Hansard, available in a couple of weeks. The original wording

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Two Anzac zingers as parliament resumes

Bipartisan wrap-up yesterday from prime minister and opposition leader on recent Anzac commemorations at Gallipoli, which they both attended. The speeches were similar, revealing the bipartisan approach to Anzac – almost as if both sides fear wedging by the other

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Facebookery and finance

We at Honest History are gradually building up our Facebook presence. For now, we are just using Facebook as another means of posting material that is also on the website – both new material and good stuff from the vault

Snuck out on Sunday: more commemoration dollars

Federal spending on the Anzac centenary is to go up by $35.5 million in this month’s 2015-16 Budget. Anzac centenary minister Ronaldson has announced the additional spend today ‘as planning for commemorative events marking the 100th anniversary of major battles

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John Menadue and Michael Keating tackle policy issues

Two former heads of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet are to be joint editors of an ambitious series of policy papers on John Menadue’s blog Pearls and Irritations. Menadue was Gough Whitlam’s private secretary, then head of

Bucket tipped on Raise a Glass

[Note: related material is in this post. Some of the material below could just have easily gone in the other post or in both but we decided just to keep one updated after about 18 April. HH] Someone, possibly in

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Rotten fresh: can it get more crass?

Woolworths thought they had a great idea. It created an online gizmo which allowed punters to upload their chosen images of people killed or maimed or made mad by war. The gizmo then created an image with the words ‘Lest

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Committee changes at Honest History

Alison Broinowski, committee member, has been appointed to the vacant position of Vice President and Pamela Burton has been welcomed to the committee. Details of the committee. 2 April 2015

Manne, Menadue and Newton: distinguished supporters of Honest History

Honest History is pleased to welcome to its list of distinguished supporters Robert Manne, John Menadue and Douglas Newton. Robert Manne is Emeritus Professor of Politics and Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at La Trobe University, Melbourne. He has written and edited many

Brendan Nelson denies commemoration fatigue

Ian McPhedran reports that Australian War Memorial director, Brendan Nelson, has denied that ‘commemoration fatigue’ is setting in during the centenary of Anzac. Dr Nelson said it was important that people examined the Gallipoli campaign and other WW1 campaigns in

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Anzac last hurrah of white Aussie male?

ANU historian, Professor Joan Beaumont, joint winner of the Prime Minister’s prize for history, says: The Anzac legend has sometimes been seen as the last hurrah of the white Australian male. If you have a foundational national narrative that is

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War songs and being awkward

Carolyn Holbrook, author of Anzac: The Unauthorised Biography and Honest History distinguished supporter, gave a speech the other day in Fremantle for MAPW. In the course of her remarks, Holbrook said this: [W]hy does it matter how Australians remember war? 

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Honest History goes to school: Glebe symposium

Honest History is always ready to talk to schools and to teachers. Thanks to Matt Esterman, from St Scholastica’s College, Glebe Point, in Sydney, Honest History was able to provide three representatives for a symposium with History Extension (Year 12)

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Honest History gets it right on spill

The Liberals’ spill vote has been held and Honest History’s Tweet of yesterday was remarkably accurate. At approximately 10 am yesterday this Tweet came from @honesthistory1: #honesthistory #spill back of envelope calculation on imperfect information suggests around 40 votes for

Humphrey McQueen’s archives come to Honest History

Distinguished Australian historian and activist, Humphrey McQueen, has generously donated to Honest History a collection of his articles and book chapters on a wide range of subjects. We thank him for this. In coming months we will be posting much

Honest History questions answered

Honest History is anticipating that 2015 will be a significant year, due to the ‘centenary of Anzac’; it is eager to take part in the continuing conversation that is Australian history. While Honest History promotes dialogue and discussion in all

Australia Day quartet: will you sing tomorrow?

Four very different views of Australia Day come from Paul Daley in the Guardian Australia, Miranda Devine in the Daily Telegraph, Dick Smith in The Age and Jack Waterford in the Canberra Times. And let’s make it a quintet with

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Anzac Public Fund Board to be abolished

The Anzac Centenary Public Fund Board will be abolished. This will be announced on Monday but the government’s intention to abolish 175 bodies has been well-leaked. Also here with a full list. This action in relation to the Board should

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Colebatching: a previous joint winner on the PM’s award

Peter Stanley, Honest History President and previous joint winner of the Prime Minister’s Award for History, has written on The Drum about the work of the most recent joint winner, Hal GP Colebatch (Australia’s Secret War). Colebatch’s Australia’s Secret War

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National History Challenge essays cover many strands of our history

The National History Challenge winners for 2014 have been announced. The national young historian was Angus Christie, a Year 5 student from The Friends School in Hobart, for his film on changing perspectives on Australia’s participation in the Vietnam War.

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Honest History supporter Joan Beaumont wins PM’s prize

Honest History distinguished supporter, Professor Joan Beaumont of ANU, has shared the Prime Minister’s Prize for Australian History. The award was for Joan’s book, Broken Nation: Australians in the Great War. She shared the prize with Hal Colebatch, who wrote

Honest History supporter Paul Daley wins Walkley

Honest History distinguished supporter, Paul Daley, has just won a Walkley Award for Coverage of Indigenous Affairs. He won with articles in Guardian Australia on how the Australian War Memorial ignores the Frontier Wars, the trade in body parts of

ANZAC force vs Islamic State under discussion?

The Daily Telegraph and some New Zealand papers have reported discussions about Australia and New Zealand about a plan to send a combined Australia-New Zealand force of trainers, badged as ‘ANZAC’, to contribute to the fight against Islamic State militants.

Manning Clark House needs donations to keep going

Manning Clark House in Canberra is in need of substantial donations to keep afloat. It has been a centre of Canberra cultural life for nearly 20 years. Honest History has been pleased to collaborate with MCH this year on the

Honest History’s successful launch in Sydney with Tom Keneally

On 14 November, more than 70 people turned out on a hot, windy Sydney Friday night for Honest History’s Sydney launch. The evening was in the upstairs room at Gleebooks, Glebe Point Road, and took the form of a conversation

Arms companies go big on Poppies in UK

The No Glory in War website in Britain is marking Remembrance Day with a well-sourced article (by Andrew Smith and Matthew Burnett-Stuart from Red Pepper) on the way in which arms companies batten onto war remembrance. Lockheed Martin and BAE

Troops invitation issue has historic parallels

Alison Broinowski, Honest History committee member, writes in the Canberra Times about issues associated with whether the Iraqi government has or will invite overseas, including Australian, troops into the country. Similar issues have attended previous Australian military involvement overseas. 7

Steve Sailah’s Gallipoli novel reviewed by Paul Daley

Guardian Australia columnist, Paul Daley, reviews A Fatal Tide, a novel about Gallipoli, written by senior journalist, Steve Sailah. The review segues into thoughts about how we commemorate and about some double standards. Too many Australians forget [says Daley] that

PM’s Albany speech provokes comment

Bruce Haigh, former diplomat and now commentator, wrote about Prime Minister Abbott’s speech at the Albany commemorative event. Haigh was critical of the speech for its inadequate grasp of history but also for its attempt, as he saw it, to

ASIO history finds no evidence that Burton spied

Ernst Willheim, former senior lawyer, writes today in the Canberra Times insert Public Sector Informant (also in other Fairfax media and fuller version in hard copy) about allegations, raised by Professor Desmond Ball and others, that former public servant, John

Honest History committee changes

Honest History Incorporated recently held its first Annual General Meeting and elected committee and executive members for 2014-15. Professor Peter Stanley remains as President, Dr David Stephens as Secretary, Michael Piggott as Treasurer and Dr Alison Broinowski, Professor Melanie Oppenheimer

No single way to prove patriotism: Soutphommasane

Race Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Tim Soutphommasane, has told a gathering in Canberra that there is no single way to prove one’s Australian patriotism. Referring to the Prime Minister’s recent remarks about Team Australia, the commissioner said, ‘I think it is

Survey supports parliamentary role in going to war

The history of how Australia went to war in the past continues to exercise us. Paul Barratt of the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry says that, ‘[w]hen asked whether they believe the Parliament should be required to approve decisions

Honest History supporter Paul Daley nominated for Walkley

Paul Daley, Guardian Australia columnist, author (most recently of the novel, Challenge) and Honest History supporter has been nominated for a Walkley Award. The nomination is in the category ‘All media coverage of Indigenous affairs’ and is for Paul’s articles,

Paul Daley on the NMA’s defining moments

Paul Daley writes in Guardian Australia in praise of the National Museum of Australia’s list of ‘defining moments’ in our history and of its initiative in seeking public comments. He quotes the Prime Minister’s remarks opening the exhibition, questions them

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Sydney Great War exhibition looks at both sides

State Records of New South Wales has announced a number of initiatives which promise to give a reasonably balanced view of the state during the years 1914-18. The New South Wales Anzac Centenary website is in three parts: In Service –

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BBC on Anzac centenary in Australia

BBC World Service journalist Judith Crosbie reports on Anzac centenary commemoration in Australia. The first part of the ten minute audio is another BBC journalist talking about our attitudes to asylum seekers. The tone of both segments is one of

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Gallipoli Children’s Book Project

Remembering and Healing, an innovative community-based peace group in Lismore, NSW, is about to invite authors and budding authors to take part in a literary competition for books on the theme of Anzac but with a message of peace and

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Hermes and Eirene: exploring history and peace

Two new websites have just launched, addressing matters of great interest. The first, Historical Encounters, a venture of the Hermes group at the University of Newcastle, is an online journal of historical consciousness, historical cultures and history education. Historical Encounters

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Retired Air Marshal speaks frankly about Iraq

Update: 2 September 2014: decision having been made to provide arms to Kurds, James Brown from the Lowy Institute, ex Australian Army, author of Anzac’s Long Shadow, lists some fallacies relating to this new involvement. It puts a different perspective

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AWM travelling exhibition cutbacks

Australian War Memorial Director, Brendan Nelson, has announced cutbacks in the Memorial’s travelling exhibitions, including shows being specially set up for the Anzac centenary under the command of a retired Major General. More. The trigger seems to have been a

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Lists and Random Strands new on our site

We have been looking at ways of making more accessible the wealth of resources found on our site under the menu headings Themes and Resources. We are introducing two new features. First, we will regularly pluck out Random strands, bibliographical

The War that Changed Us not rose-tinted

There is lots of Anzac nostalgia television in the offing, with Anzac Girls notably underway already, leaving a somewhat frothy impression, though it is apparently based on diaries at the time. The nurses seem awfully young and fetching, the soldiers

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Black Diggers and Frontier Wars

Honest History has a number of resources on these related issues. This article provoked by NAIDOC Week 2014 includes links to a number of articles discussing both the Frontier Wars and the rediscovered role of Indigenous servicemen. Peter Stanley gave

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Commemoration, celebration and contrition

Chris Sheedy in Fairfax Media talks to Bishop Tom Frame and Dr Craig Stockings about aspects of how we commemorate death in war. Stockings refers to ‘the tendency within Australia to selectively package and promote specific elements of the war

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Victorian schoolchildren stand up like soldiers

Victorian Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Damian Drum, tweeted a picture of school children standing up in an assembly. The caption read: ‘@Anzac100Vic roadshow at Bendigo South East College, those standing would likely have enlisted during ww1’. The roadshow is an

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Whizzbangs incoming

Readers of our newsletters will have seen our regular feature, ‘Whizzbangs’, short, often topical items which say something pointed about history and its quirks. We have been firing these projectiles for 12 months now and thought we would store the

Crisis 1914! The Call to Arms

A new exhibition commences on 5 August at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, Canberra. ‘The first few months of the First World War demonstrated’, says the blurb, ‘Australia’s enthusiastic commitment to the war, not yet exposing

We’ve been working on our website …

Update 21 August: Lists and Random strands In recent weeks we have been introducing changes to the way the Honest History website works. We want to help readers find and explore the full scope of the rich content we are

Defence Issues Paper says US Alliance still central

The Minister for Defence, Senator Johnston, has released a Defence Issues Paper setting out issues that will be addressed in the Defence White Paper to come out in 2015. Of particular interest is the statement about the long-standing American Alliance,

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Soviet World War II posters at the Australian War Memorial

At a time when events in the Ukraine have brought to the fore attitudes to the role of Russia in world affairs, the Australian War Memorial happens to be hosting a number of talks highlighting Soviet World War II propaganda

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Australian Historical Association Conference 2014

The conference was held in Brisbane 7-11 July 2014. Abstracts of the papers presented are available as a pdf  AHA_Conference Abstract Book. Bloggers Shauna Hicks and Yvonne Perkins have posted comments as has Marion Diamond, with some comments on the

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Committed realist about our war obsession

The Governor of Tasmania, Peter Underwood, has died unexpectedly following surgery. He was 76. Apart from being a distinguished Governor and formerly Chief Justice he made memorable speeches calling for a realistic approach to the commemoration of war, particularly because

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Commemorating our warriors – all of them

NAIDOC Week sees two important articles about the need to comprehensively commemorate all who have shed blood for their country. Paul Daley writes in the Guardian Australia that it is ‘inconsistent to celebrate Indigenous Australians’ service in Imperial armies while

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Common interests of Germany and Great Britain: 100 years ago today

Around about now, the focus on matters 100 years ago is very sharp. There is even a statue of Gavrilo Princip being unveiled in Sarajevo. Our own small contribution is to draw attention to an opinion piece in the Sydney

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Primary school children and honest history

Aint Google amazing? In the week where HH had an interesting exchange with the education people at the Australian War Memorial on teaching children about war, Google turned up an article on a number of US blogs with the fascinating

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General Morrison speaks against sexual violence in war

Chief of Army LT GEN David Morrison was a featured speaker at the Global Summit to end Sexual Violence in Conflict. He noted that at the heart of the issue of sexual violence committed by men in uniform ‘stands the

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World War I contentious questions on ABC RN

ABC Radio National is broadcasting World War One: Memory, Perception and 10 Contested Questions on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 June 2014 from 12 to 5pm. Crucially, the programs will look at why the war began, as well as other often

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Curriculum review interim report released

The preliminary report of the Donnelly-Wiltshire review of the national curriculum has been released, having been with the Minister since the end of March. (Earlier background.) The final report will be with the Minister (though not necessarily released) at the

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University of Adelaide Library: e-Books

We are adding this to the Recommended links section of the site but just wanted to give it a plug along the way. The site is an alphabetical list of e-Books available all over the Net. From a quick glance

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New members join the Honest History committee

Honest History is pleased to welcome three new members to its committee: Dr Alison Broinowski, activist, author and former diplomat, of Sydney; Professor Melanie Oppenheimer, academic and author, of Flinders University, Adelaide; Professor Kay Saunders AM, academic and author, of

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