Turnbull, Noel: The commemoration industry and the militarization of Australian history

Noel Turnbull

The commemoration industry and the militarization of Australian history: a speech given to the Middle Park Men’s Group‘, 24 November 2021’, Noel Turnbull, 27 November 2021

[W]hat concerns me is the way Australia has developed a commemoration industry unparalleled anywhere outside the US and Russia.

What also concerns me is that vast amounts are being spent on commemoration at a time when many veterans are not getting the compassion and assistance they should …

The young men who enlisted [in the Great War] were … products of a nation which was among the pioneers of universal suffrage, votes for women and trade union rights.

It is this – not military exploits – which define Australia’s coming of age and which make it worth defending.

The speech also covers Australia’s Vietnam involvement (Turnbull served there), military honours, the War Memorial redevelopment project, and family war history. It concludes:

Another friend and fellow veteran from Vietnam days recently emailed me about the latest atrocities the Government had perpetrated on TPI veterans. He described the current situation as:

Commemoration over Compassion.

Welfare replacing Entitlements.

Museums instead of Motivation.

Costing in lieu of Caring.

Shedding over Science.

Veterans reduced to Victims.

When we say Lest we forget this is what we should remember.

Honest History welcomes Noel Turnbull’s remarks, which reflect much of what we have been saying over the years. Turnbull mentions the alleged words of Atatürk to the mothers of soldiers who died at Gallipoli. There is no strong evidence that Atatürk ever said or wrote the words and plenty of evidence that they came about in a very different way. Short version of evidence. Long version. They are, of course, lovely words, even though they were most likely composed by the unlovely Şükrü Kaya, Atatürk’s associate.

Turnbull gives a figure of $552 million for Australian expenditure on the Anzac Century, including $88 million on the Monash Centre at Villers Bretonneux. The actual figures are around $600 million and around $100 million respectively: summary of Honest History and related research; Wikipedia reference, including note to Public Works Committee report on cost of Monash Centre.

Noel Turnbull has had a 40-year-plus career in public relations, politics, journalism and academia. He is co-founder of the Truth and Integrity Project, which recently released a report, Disgust and Distrust. Media release. Turnbull on Pearls & Irritations. The report says:

There is no greater manifestation of community disgust and distrust in Federal politics than the proliferation of independent candidates, community-based campaigns ranging across integrity, climate, the ABC, science, technology, education, trade unions and many other issues.

David Stephens

Editor HH

6 December 2021

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