Centenary Watch: February 2015

[Links checked 2 November 2017 and some were found to be broken, due to removal of material from websites or simply the passage of time. Honest History may be able to help users track down resources where a link is broken. Please contact admin@honesthistory.net.au. HH]

Update 17 February 2015: Loophole in ‘Anzac’ protection regulations

Loophole in ‘Anzac’ protection regulations

Carolyn Holbrook recently drew attention to certain Anzac commemorative products, including an ‘Anzac Pin-Up Girl’ t-shirt (available from a firm called Zazzle) and other t-shirts produced by Redbubble and also using the word ‘Anzac’. (See also. Plus.) The use of the word ‘Anzac’ is protected by Australian regulations dating back to 1921 and administered by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Last year, DVA asked Honest History to draw the department’s attention to apparent breaches of these regulations. Accordingly, we passed on information to DVA about these cases. At the same time, we asked Redbubble and Zazzle whether they had permission to use the word ‘Anzac’. We received non-committal, standard answers from both firms. We passed these to DVA. DVA then advised us (16 February) as follows:

None of the items mentioned in Ms Holbrook’s speech have been approved to use the word “Anzac”. Some of the products have carefully avoided the term as they are obviously aware of the legislation, and others are being produced by international companies.

The Protection of Word “Anzac” Regulations do not apply overseas, meaning there is no legal obligation for the American websites Zazzle.com, Redbubble.com and Cafepress.com to remove these items from sale. However, most websites of this nature are used to intellectual property claims and will remove offending items quickly if they are contacted. The Department has also successfully taken down products from a similar website by informing them of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations, which do not allow the import of Anzac Goods into Australia without a permit.

DVA will contact the offending companies to inform them of the legislation and make intellectual property claims around the word “Anzac” and the Anzac Centenary Logo.

At the time of writing, the offending items were still being advertised. Honest History will keep track of what happens. (Update 31 March 2015: the item no longer appears on the Zazzle website)

Update 3 February 2015: Minister Ronaldson; new Anzac Portal; Anzackery exposed at ADFA; Victoria Cross poster and the AWM shop; PANDORA opens box; Anzac in Victoria; Canberra commentary; No Glory in War sums up Britain’s 2014

Minister Ronaldson

The Minister announced a $10 million donation from Woodside Petroleum to the Anzac Centenary Public Fund plus some travel assistance by QANTAS in relation to the centenary commemorations at Gallipoli in April. He extended condolences to the family of Tom Uren, former Labor parliamentarian and war veteran.

New Anzac Portal

As noted previously, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs website has been redesigned and modernised. There is also now a separate Anzac Portal, announced by Minister Ronaldson early in December. The portal links to resources directed particularly at students and teachers. Encouragingly, there are a couple of mentions in the Minister’s media release of ‘wartime history’ and ‘Australia’s experience of war’, rather than simply ‘military history’.

One of the Government’s key objectives for the Anzac Centenary period [the Minister says] is to ensure that all Australians are able to gain a better understanding and appreciation of our wartime history. It is important that the effect war has had on individuals, families, towns, cities, and our nation as a whole, is remembered and that their sacrifices are never forgotten.

Honest History will have a closer look through the portal. Meanwhile, we note that a couple of the most recent (October-November 2014) additions to DVA’s collection of educational materials are two booklets, Symbols of Commemoration Cube: Educational Activities for Primary Students, and We Remember Anzac, pitched at Years 2-6 children, that is, from seven or so years old. The booklets link to elements of the Australian Curriculum: History. It would be great if other strands of Australia’s history were so well-presented by government to children. They are not. We discuss relevant issues in our Teaching children about war section.

Anzackery exposed at ADFA

Carolyn Holbrook, author of Anzac: The Unauthorised Biography, spoke at the ADFA Summer School for Secondary History Teachers. She reprised and extended themes in her book, highlighting the commercialisation of the Anzac centenary and the politicisation of the Anzac story.

[W]hen I gave a lecture to Melbourne University students about the history of Anzac commemoration in 2013 [Dr Holbrook said], one of the students approached me afterwards and told me that she felt like she had been brainwashed. She said that she had no idea that Anzac was not always the incredibly important occasion it had been for as long as she could remember.

I don’t want to go so far as to claim that Australians are being brainwashed. I think that a lot of people who are passionate about Anzac commemoration have pure motives. I just want people, especially our young people, to be vigilant about what is being dished up to them as history.

Victoria Cross poster and the AWM shop

Not explicitly Anzackery and not directly related to the Anzac centenary, but worth highlighting nevertheless, is the Australian War Memorial’s poster ($29.95) ‘The Victoria Cross and the Cross of Valour, Australian Awards 1900-2014’. It includes photographs of all 100 recipients of the VC and all five recipients of the Cross of Valour (CV), the latter awarded to civilians and military personnel for bravery not in the face of the enemy.

Views will differ as to whether this is an appropriate ‘souvenir’; it rather resembles the posters advertised during cricket broadcasts, although it is much cheaper than them. Visitors to the Memorial’s shop (online or on the spot, newly refurbished) might prefer to buy the ‘Roll of Honour print’, suitable for framing, reduced to clear at $2.90, ‘Lament for the Dead of Long Tan’, a poster selling at $12.95, the ‘Army bear’, $29.99, or the ‘Air Force bear’, slightly cheaper at $29.95, or the ‘Rembrella Poppy Umbrella’, three different models, with the golf version selling at $64.99. There are hundreds of other items, including a line of Anzac centenary products, such as some rather expensive t-shirts carrying reproductions of recruiting posters from the Great War.

‘Purchasing items from the Online Shop benefits the Australian War Memorial’, says the Memorial’s website, though it would be interesting to know what proportion of the proceeds goes to the Memorial and what goes to commercial interests. We’ll ask. The Memorial’s Annual Report 2013-14 discloses Shop revenue of $1 783 496 and net profit of $288 149 before notional overhead costs. Online sales are additional to this but are not tallied separately.

PANDORA opens box

In December, Honest History recorded disappointment that the PANDORA section of the Library, responsible for archiving websites, had not included, in its collection of Anzac centenary websites, any sites which offered alternative views of the centenary. We are pleased to report that, after discussion with us, the Library has agreed to include such websites under the heading ‘WWI commemoration – context and critical views’. Honest History is there, as is the Gallipoli Centenary Peace Campaign and History Punk. We hope many others will follow. Thanks, NLA.

Anzac in Victoria

While Honest History concentrates, due to resource limitations, mostly on happenings at the Commonwealth level, we also try to keep up with other jurisdictions. While our analysis of the Commonwealth’s Simpson Prize showed a movement away from questions about the relevance of the Anzac legend in modern Australia, this is not the case in Victoria, where the current question for the Premier’s Spirit of Anzac Prize reads as follows:

What does the “Anzac spirit” mean today in a diverse and multicultural Australia? To what extent can your definition be related to the events and people of the Great War?

The explanatory note continues:

Students are asked to refer to examples of the Anzac spirit from Australia’s involvement in wars and conflicts from Gallipoli through to the present day, and relate those experiences to positive values in their community and activities of Australia today.

Canberra commentary

Veteran Canberra Times columnist, Jack Waterford, has presented an alternative view of the Anzac centenary and of what he regards as excessive Australia Day celebrations.

It was generally taken as read among ex-servicemen [Waterford recalled of his childhood in the fifties and sixties] that the more blusteringly patriotic anyone was, the less likely that they had ever actually been in the slightest peril … Indeed the digger tradition, so far as it suffuses our national legend of ourselves, is much more one of open disdain for gesture, pomp and ceremony, and even parade grounds.

He said more the following week (scroll down a bit) including on the vexed issue of the flags Australians have fought under.

No Glory in War sums up Britain’s 2014

No Glory in War, the cashed-up and passionate website and movement in the United Kingdom, has put out a summary by Matthew Crampton of commemoration and alternative-to-commemoration moments in Blighty last year. It is fascinating reading, including the reference to the reintroduction of army cadet units in state schools ‘to ensure that as many young people as possible can benefit from military-themed activities’.

Just as the war in 1914 was not over by Christmas – as the soldiers believed or were promised – our campaign [says Crampton] continues to counter attempts to glorify a war that the politician said would be “the war to end all wars”, but which in fact heralded 100 years of UK wars.

The UK timeline linked above could be compared with this one for Australia.