E-newsletter No. 9, 5 February 2014

ISSN:2202-5561 © Honest History Inc. 2014

NEW on the HONEST HISTORY website

Hugh White from ANU writes and talks about Australians’ attitude to war and how it has got us into awkward situations in the past and may do so again in the East China Sea if China and Japan come into conflict and the United States is drawn in. The Anzac tradition helps us to go to war without having to think too much about it.

We cross swords politely with Andrew Nikolic, Liberal MP for Bass, over attitudes to the ABC and to Anzac. Are these attitudes becoming markers of broader divisions in Australia? We have offered space on the site to Brigadier Nikolic so we can respond further.

We kept track of the argument over Minister Pyne’s proposed review of the national secondary curriculum. We were particularly interested in the history element.

Honest History has taken to Twitter; follow us @honesthistory1. We are Tweeting regularly to promote the Honest History website and stir the pot on issues that are relevant to our project.

Talking of Twitter, Twistory is our sometimes quirky dip into the National Library’s Trove newspaper database. Each day we Tweet to our followers an item from 100 years ago. Some are about war, a lot are not.

Peter Stanley takes up the Jauncey relay-blogging pen and muses about military history in India and in Australia. India has done too little of it but perhaps we have done too much?

We are finding out more and more about Leslie and Beatrice Jauncey; follow their story.

Honest History on the ABC


On 666 ABC Canberra, mobile and online: Honest History fortnightly segment opened 4 February with Professor Joan Beaumont (Broken Nation) talking about the aftermath of World War I. Fortnightly over coming weeks at around 10.05 am on Tuesdays, next 18 February.


Honest History is a new regular segment on 666 ABC Canberra Mornings with host Genevieve Jacobs. Shibboleths will be shafted and myths will be busted during a robust and honest history discussion.


The segment is in cooperation with Honest History and the participation of various distinguished historians.


Tune in to Mornings with Genevieve Jacobs, weekdays from 9–11am on 666 ABC Canberra. Radio. Mobile. Online.



An English observer, Richard Twopeny, writes about female dress in 1880s Melbourne: ‘I fancy that the French modistes manufacture a certain style of attire for the Australian market. It is a compound of the cocotte and the American. Nor when she has got a handsome dress does the Melbourne grande dame know how to wear it; she merely succeeds in looking like what a Brighton lodging-house keeper once defined to me as a “carriage lady”.’ (Town Life in Australia (1883))

Running, camping, cruising

As well as the misleadingly-named Camp Gallipoli, complete with $275 swag, there is the Anzac Run and any number of Gallipoli cruises like this one, besides the ballot to actually be at Anzac Cove on 25 April 1915. Commemoration is big business, though some of it has fund-raising elements. As Ginger Mick might have said, ‘I dunno ‘ow I feel’. He might wonder though at some of the antics his descendants get up to ‘in the soft days uv peace’.


Lindsay Fox, the civic-minded tycoon, is chair of the Anzac Centenary Public Fund. There are already ‘confirmed corporate donors’ and other business people will be asked to stump up to augment the $150 million already earmarked by the Commonwealth to spend over the next few years. Some readers can expect a call.


Michelle Starr reports in CNet Australia that some of the best Australian inventions are the refrigerator, the (military) tank, the medical applications of penicillin, the Ford ute, the surf ski, budgie smugglers, and the splayd. Not just the Hills Hoist. Inventions feature on the Honest History site.


‘Britain entering first world war was “biggest error in modern history”” (English historian Niall Ferguson; attracting 800 comments) ‘If war breaks out, it will be the greatest catastrophe the world has ever seen’. (British Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, 1914, quoted by RJW Evans)

Begging the question

‘So – to sum up – you don’t have to be a mindless conformist to choose suburban life. Most of the best poets and painters and inventors and protesters choose it too.’ (Hugh Stretton, Ideas for Australian Cities (1970))

Government and the media: who should support whom?


The perennial question has arisen again in recent days with the Prime Minister’s remarks about the ABC. Previous protagonists include Abraham Lincoln, Josef Goebbels and John Curtin.

And elsewhere…

Good survey of governments and the history curriculum in this article in Independent Australia by Glenn Davies, including a great cartoon from John Graham. Should be read in conjunction with our roundup.