Page from history: bushies go to war
“Total silence befell the gathering as the announcer, in sombre and subdued tones, began to read a message from the Prime Minister advising that Britain was at war with Germany and that Australia, as a member of the British Empire, was also at war.
“Young men were urged to attend recruiting stations to have their names entered to join the forces. Some of the men began to look nervously about the room and an instantaneous restlessness invaded the gathering.
“The gathering broke up with some of the men declaring loudly that they would join up to fight the German invaders while the women protested that they would not allow them to do so. They questioned why their husbands should have to go to England to fight when the war was so far away. Children who were able to interpret the mood of the gathering began to whimper in apprehension.
“Charlie felt concerned and confused because he has seen the many photographs of his uncles, cousins and local friends in their uniforms and he knew that some of them had been killed or wounded.
“Although a young boy, Charlie knew the power of guns because he had seen kangaroos shot by his dad. He saw the recoil and heard the loud roar of the powerful 303 rifles as they were discharged at the local rifle range each Sunday morning when he accompanied his father there for the weekly shooting tournaments.
“He had seen his father shoot a brown snake in the front yard and the big ginger dingo that had menaced the poultry in their pen late one Sunday afternoon. He recalled the loud yelping and screaming of the wild dog as it flung itself about on the ground before his father was able to shoot another bullet into it which silenced it instantly.
“Despite the impact as the bullet slammed into the animal’s head, its body continued to flinch and quiver for several minutes. He saw the blood run from the gaping wound in its carcass and knew that humans would do the same if they were shot.”
Mr Vic Morris, writer, historian and teacher now living on the shores of Moreton Bay in Queensland, wrote the above lines in his major work, A Piece of String, first published in August 2014.
His early life was spent at Herberton in the rugged backblocks of Cairns, and he captures the character, language, culture and mood of the time when bushies of Far North Queensland were called into uniform and go overseas to fight for Britain. They had no argument with the people they were going to kill and maim and many of them had never heard of the countries where the battlefields were located. Somewhat sheepishly, they bought maps and atlases to find out where they were going.
Local Aborigines were puzzled by the exodus of white fellas, but many of them signed up too. It seemed that most of the male population, black and white, wanted to go to war.
Women were expected to stay at home and look after the small children who were too young to join the army. Women from the city went as nurses and medical orderlies, and joined the Red Cross. It gave them a rank and a uniform. Some married soldiers, many died and a few returned home to Australia.
Sadly, some were committed to psychiatric institutions, others committed suicide or lived with their relatives, isolated in tiny rooms or sheds. They were rarely seen in public, and children walking home from school declared that the “mad woman’s home” was haunted. When she died, the funerals were very private. Only close family attended: about five or six people, and no children. The bleak ceremonies were over in 10 minutes, the vicar was paid and everyone went home to think about war and the price of “serving the Motherland”.
Murdoch v Crikey
Upon hearing that Murdoch media was suing Crikey for defamation, I immediately added my name to the long list of journos, writers, academics and concerned citizens who had volunteered to defend press freedom.
It was a professional obligation. I didn’t have to think about it – maybe a nano-second.
There was logic behind my decision. But it was not simply a response driven by cold, hard logic. I also have to admit that I saw a chance to stick it up the hated Murdochs.
It is a response I share with British playwright, the late Dennis Potter, who said on his deathbed:
“I call my cancer, the main one, the pancreas one, I call it Rupert, so I can get close to it, because the man Murdoch is the one who, if I had the time I would shoot the bugger if I could. There is no one person more responsible for the pollution of what was already a fairly polluted press, and the pollution of the British press is an important part of the pollution of British political life.”
When led by Rupert Murdoch, and now by his eldest son Lachlan, Murdoch media has trashed journalism and the lives of people who got in their way. Things reached a peak during the phone-hacking scandal when worldwide Murdoch media hacked the mobile phones of British royalty, Prime Ministers, Cabinet Ministers, MPs, celebrities, police, footballers, footballers’ wives and members of the public.
Nick Davies, multi-awarding winning British journalist, spent years tracking the Murdoch media’s phone-hacking for the London Guardian newspaper. Between July 2009 and July 2011, Davies wrote more than 100 stories about the criminal behaviour of Murdoch’s now defunct News of the World and then wrote Hack Attack explaining in detail Murdoch’s prostitution of journalism with the connivance of Fleet Street, the Metropolitan Police and senior functionaries in the intelligence services who knew what was going on all the time.
Sir Harold Evans, now deceased, described Davies’s book as “an indictment of the worst of journalism – but an exhilarating example of how the best of journalism is the lifeblood of any democracy”.
Carl Bernstein, Washington Post Watergate journalist in President Richard Nixon’s era, was equally robust in his praise, saying: “The British hacking scandal is the ultimate expression of Murdoch culture run amok.”
Crikey is now building an army of journalist under the slogans “Your fight is our fight”, “Let’s fight Murdoch in the courts or you might be next” and “We are all in this anti-Murdoch fight together”.
Hang on a minute, I volunteered my support to a court case against Lachlan Murdoch. It was my duty to do so. But I never agreed to fight for Crikey per se, or did I miss something?
Crikey is perfectly capable of looking after itself. It is a private company with shareholders and a board of directors.
What if the $20 million Crikey is bought lock, stock and barrel by the $50 BILLION Murdoch corporation? Would Crikey accept the offer? And if Crikey ever became part of News International, what would happen then?
For the moment, I’ll back Crikey’s court case against Lachlan Murdoch. He is claiming that Crikey’s article by Bernard Keane contains 14 defamatory meanings – including claims that the applicant (Murdoch) illegally conspired with President Donald Trump to overturn the 2020 presidential election; illegally conspired with Trump to incite an armed mob on march on Congress on 6 January 2021; was aware of the allegation that rally attendees were armed; conspired with Trump to commit the offence of “treason” against the United States of America, i.e. that Lachlan Murdoch is a criminal.
Veteran media commentators such as multi-award-winning journalist Paul Barry, presenter of ABC-TV’s Media-Watch, is worried about Crikey’s campaign to drum up support. He’s right. This story has a long way to run. Let’s see where it all ends up.
US-led war in Ukraine claims first big scalp
The old journalist slogan, The First Casualty in War is Truth, does not apply to Ukraine. “Truth” was never an issue. The media coverage has been all one way – propaganda written by US, British, NATO, Israeli, EU and West European sources.
The noise – you cannot seriously call it news – on the mainstream media has been written, packaged, filmed and photographed by professionals.
But after almost a year of fighting, the first ruler to fall was not Russia’s President Putin but Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The media gulped, took Johnson’s fall in its stride and stepped up the war on Putin.
The chorus was so unanimous that the US-led strategy could not be denied: Washington and its allies want regime-change.
They want Putin out and a new leader who is pro-Western, pro-capitalist and pro-exploitation of Russia’s minerals, timber, wheat, water, gas and oil.
Fast-moving events in Britain
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak or Foeign Secretary Liz Truss will become the new leader of the Tory Party and the next Prime Minister on Monday, 5 September 2022.
Boris Johnson will “leave office” and retire to the backbenches the following day. He will join Theresa May as the second former Tory PM on the backbenches of the House of Commons.
Boris Johnson and his successor will travel to Balmoral Castle in Scotland for audiences with Queen Elizabeth II. She is expected to offer Johnson a life peerage and a seat in the House of Lords if he keeps his mouth shut. She will explain it is the best deal on offer and one that has benefitted his predecessors.
Normally, the queen would see her outgoing, and incoming, prime ministers at Buckingham Palace but she is sick, worn-out and rambling. This time they have to travel from London to Scotland to see her. Both visitors loathe Scotland and especially its First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. With the queen out of the way, Buck House flunkeys are working feverishly on her resignation, abdication or death, whichever is the sooner. Her 1992 annus horribilis pales into insignificance besides 2021-22.
Boris meets Richard Marles
Boris Johnson spent one of his final days as Prime Minister (August 31, 2022) unveiling a new nuclear submarine at a boatyard in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.
Bojo made the surprise decision to tag along with his Defence Secretary Ben Wallace who was meeting his Australian counterpart, Richard Marles, at the commissioning ceremony for HMS Anson, a £1.45 billion nuclear-powered submarine which has taken nine-and-a-half years to build.
HMS Anson is the fifth of seven planned subs in the long-delayed and over-budget Astute-class programme. Marles was invited to Barrow-in-Furness as part of the security deal between the UK, US and Australia, known as the ‘Aukus’ pact, and was pictured grovelling to Jonson and laughing at his “jokes”.
Sydney Morning Herald journalist Latika Bourke travelled with Marles. Who paid for her first-class travel, accommodation and expenses? Marles, Department of Defence, SMH, or Ms Bourke?
Just asking …
Now for some exciting, good news
My latest book, MOUNTBATTEN: Britain’s War Lord, is published and is now on the shelves of selected bookshops.
Tony Whitlam, the distinguished former judge, is the latest to endorse the book about the man he calls “a consummate chancer who seized every opportunity for personal aggrandisement”. You can read his review in full here.