Lester, Tim & Marilyn Lake: What’s wrong with Anzac?

Tim Lester & Marilyn Lake

What’s wrong with Anzac?The Age: Breaking Politics, 25 April 2013 (video)

Tim Lester interviews Professor Marilyn Lake about aspects of commemoration. Professor Lake suggests the treatment of Anzac has been characterised by commemoration without historical understanding, despite the work of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and others in disseminating educational material to schools. Indeed, this material presents only a partial view of Australia in war.

The national curriculum in history, on the other hand, puts military exploits in context, referring to events on the home front, such as the conscription referenda in World War I. This is as it should be (despite the views of the then Opposition education spokesman, Christopher Pyne, who had claimed that Anzac was being overshadowed) and is appropriate to a pluralistic democracy whose history has many strands.

Excessive attention to the military aspects of World War I has overshadowed Australia’s significant domestic history before the Great War. Finally, there is a mistaken feeling that the growth of historical understanding depends on emotion-charged visits to battlefields, such as one undertaken by a West Australian teenager in an interview aired the day before.

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