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Collard, Sarah: ‘It must all be a part of our reckoning with the truth’: Albanese acknowledges Frontier Wars in House

Sarah Collard

“It must all be a part of our reckoning with the truth'”: Albanese acknowledges Frontier Wars in House‘, SBS/NITV News, 16 February 2021 updated

Update 23 February 2021: Paul Daley in Guardian Australia

Albanese’s fine words in federal parliament about frontier wars are remarkable and laudatory. They’d have been more so if spoken at the war memorial.

Daley also had this to say about political attitudes to the Memorial:

Like the white-hatted Anzac myth it enshrines, the memorial is a political shibboleth. Woe betide, perhaps, the political leader who questions the pervasive Anzac myth – or its shrine, the war memorial – and what both omit from history. Especially in a speech in the memorial itself.

So potently has Australian history become militarised that federal politicians who once merely marked the opening of each parliamentary session with attendance at a religious service, now also go to the Australian War Memorial to give thanks with similar solemn, ecclesiastic fervour.

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Contrasts an Anthony Albanese speech in Parliament (pages 102, 109-10 of the Draft Hansard) with a similar effort of his recently at the Australian War Memorial, where he ‘inadvertently’ in the spoken version left out reference to the Frontier Wars. The article includes extensive quotes from experts, Indigenous representatives and journalists.

The crucial words with everything in (from the Parliament version):

I spoke recently at the War Memorial about those Indigenous Australians who donned the khaki and fought for a nation that was not prepared to fight for them. They fought for a continent for which their own people had fought during the frontier wars, wars we have not yet learnt to speak of so loudly. They, too, died for their loved ones. They, too, died for their country. We must remember them just as we remember those who fought more recent conflicts. It must all be a part of our reckoning with the truth. Without it, we cannot be whole.

Albanese’s Memorial speech as delivered reflected the Memorial’s public stance: recognition of Indigenous service in the Queen’s uniform but ambivalence about commemorating the Frontier Wars and Indigenous warriors involved in them. Honest History has pointed out the confusion this approach has led to. Use our Search engine with terms like ‘Frontier Wars’ and ‘massacre’.