23 April 2024

Barnaby's gripe over public servants and Anzac Day is so last year

| Chris Johnson
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Anzac Day fundraising remains a concern for RSL sub-branch members in South East NSW. Photo: Patricia Woods Flickr

While Anzac Day is a solemn day for many, others object to being made to have a day off for it. Photo: Patricia Woods Flickr.

Anzac Day must be close – time for Barnaby to take another swipe at the public service.

He did it last year and he’s done it again this year.

Barnaby Joyce, former deputy prime minister, former leader of the Nationals and current shadow minister for veterans’ affairs, wants the government to force all employees of the Australian Public Service (except those in emergency service roles) to take the day off this coming Thursday, 25 April.

He wants the Labor Federal Government led by Anthony Albanese to insist that its workforce commemorates the day with leave because the Coalition government led by Scott Morrison that Barnaby was a part of did that, too.

Before the last federal election, the Liberal-Nationals government moved to ensure public servants couldn’t swap the day.

Labor, once in office, reverted to the way it had previously been (ie, public servants could seek approval from their managers to substitute the holiday for another day off).

While most public servants will take a public holiday on Thursday – and most likely a day’s annual leave on Friday to make it a four-day weekend – there are some who object to it.

READ ALSO Barnaby raises the Anzac Day and public servants chestnut again

Some see it as glorifying war and don’t feel comfortable honouring the day.

As dubious as that reasoning might seem, if there are conscientious objectors, they should not be dismissed outright.

It’s the same for public holidays that mark Australia Day and the King’s Birthday.

If personal convictions move someone to ask their manager for an alternative day off in lieu of Anzac Day (or the other two public holidays), and if that can be accommodated within their respective agencies, then what skin is it off Barnaby’s nose?

He places Anzac Day in a category all of its own and insists that those on the government payroll must honour it.

“Initially, it had been assumed the Federal Government accidentally included Anzac Day when it made the same policy for other public holidays such as Australia Day and the King’s Birthday,” he said in a recent statement.

“But the policy stands even after it was pointed out in parliament. So, it wasn’t an accident.”

It’s pretty clear it wasn’t an accident. That was pretty clear last year as well.

But Barnaby has seized the opportunity for some relevance-boosting commentary and has rehashed the same feigned outrage he conjured up last year.

But the truly wonderful thing about democracy in this country is that freedom of choice and personal decisions matter.

READ ALSO Woolies boss threatened with jail over contempt of the Senate

For some, Anzac Day is a solemn day to remember the fallen, the survivors and the bravery of war while also noting the futility of it.

For others, it’s an opportunity to escape to the beach.

For many, it’s both.

And for a massive portion of the population (at least in Canberra), it’s simply the point on the calendar that allows them to turn on their home heaters without feeling any guilt.

So when Barnaby tries to describe the decision as a government snub to Australia’s veterans, he’s drawing a long bow.

“This is another example of how veterans and their families are feeling the loss of their voice in Cabinet,” he said.

“Until Mr Albanese took office, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs sat at the Cabinet table. But not under Labor.”

Only he knows whether his bigger gripe is about a few public servants not observing Anzac Day or about his portfolio not being mirrored in Cabinet.

But the whole whinge seems petty.

The nation moved on from this argument last year. But not Barnaby.

His convictions over Anzac Day, along with those of many Australians, are valid.

But so, too, are the convictions of the minority who choose not to commemorate the day – even if they are public servants.

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It is a day to remember the fallen. It would be better if ANZAC Day included the Australian Frontier Wars where many thousands of First Australians were killed.

It absolutely should be a non-negotiable public holiday for all. The mental gymnastics that must occur to consider this day of commemoration a ‘glorification of war’ are astounding and we must be careful not to erode the value of this particular occasion.

peturbed_but_pretty1:14 pm 24 Apr 24

How many people do you know who actually use Anzac Day to commemorate? A whole lot of people will be taking Friday and heading to the coast, the mountains, to Bunnings.

I hardly know anyone anymore who goes to Anzac Day services or marches.

Having said all of that however, I do think Anzac Day is more important to recognise than Christmas, Easter or Australia Day. I’m not ready to switch the day.

GrumpyGrandpa5:35 pm 24 Apr 24

I don’t attend the Dawn Service, nor have I attended any Anzac Day gatherings, since I was a kid.

My Grandfather was in The Light Horse and my Dad was in New Guinea.

Despite being involved in the conflict in New Guinea, my Dad didn’t make a practice of attending Anzac services either. At his funeral, the RSL played the bugle out of respect.

While I don’t attend Anzac services, the day is sacred. It is a day to remember those who have fallen and those who have served our country. I’ll spend a few minutes in deep thought.

Personally, I’m one who believes in tradition. And while not all will stand beside me, I also respect Christmas, Easter, Australia Day (on 26th Jan.) and the Monarchy. I also object to the rewriting of history, removing statues and changing street names etc.

To me all of these things are part our our journey as a nation, and should unite us as one.

Kindest wishes,

“I also object to the rewriting of history …”
So, you would be ok if major city and region names reverted to their original indigenous names then? Or is it only rewriting of white history to which you object?

David Watson1:13 pm 24 Apr 24

Is this issue going to be raise each year like Australia Day as invasion day?. Let’s move on to remember it’s all about commemoration and not just a public holiday. See it as one of only several days a year when we focus on our country as a nation for what it has been and what we want it to be in the future.

HiddenDragon8:40 pm 23 Apr 24

If a government’s commitment to ANZAC Day is so wishy-washy that it will indulge passive resistance on the part of its officials, do we really need the annual spectacle of an apparatchik, who has risen to the position of PM, donning the mandatory Akubra and delivering high-flown rhetoric (with the also mandatory notes of emotion in the voice) about the ANZAC spirit?

GrumpyGrandpa7:27 pm 23 Apr 24

Anzac Day is on 25th April 2024. The public holiday is on that date for a reason. It’s for Australians to remember those who have lost their lives in war.

Anyone who elects to swap out the Anzac Day public holiday for another date, is more interested in commemorating themselves.

I served for thirty years, I did two tours, one on active service, and I have chest full of medals. – Barnaby did not serve a single day in uniform.

These commemorative days will always be personal and in a democracy we should honour people’s choices.

I no longer attend ANZAC services but I always attend Remembrance Day. As a veteran my choice should be honoured not judged. I will certainly not judge anyone else’s choice.

Bennett Bennett6:33 pm 23 Apr 24

People who apparently do not commemorate ANZAC day are setup to fail. ANZAC day is a constant reminder of those who have lost their lives for this country. The country that it is, for better. Should ANZAC not be a thing, then we are talking WW1 and WW2 being entirely different outcomes. If WW2 was entirely different in outcome I don’t think we’d be having such a liberal multicultural get-together/love-in about ANZAC day.

With the esafety commissioner recently supporting the freedom of someone on X to promote such putrid sexual fetishes that they’re too sensitive to mention here (I know, I tried earlier), it’s clear that Australia’s no longer the nation the ANZACs fought for, and so the left should be banned from ANZAC Day and be forced to go to work

Lefty Boomer5:06 pm 23 Apr 24

Barnyard is just pushing buttons, he knows there are people who cling to the ANZAC legend for dear life and also belong to that sector of society that will tell First Nations People to ‘get over’ the past yet are stuck in the past on this issue. The hypochracy is stunning!

Why is the media even giving this hypocrite a platform? I remember watching Barnaby in parliament frothing about family values, all the time carrying on a dalliance with his media adviser!

You wouldn’t get Barnaby going off to fight in a war, he would go to jelly!

Barnaby is an embarrassment to our parliament. He has a drinking problem and that can be seen from his face. His latest drunken antics on Lonsdale Street make that point clear!

And the fact the ACT Public Service is thoroughly leftist politically infiltrated and corrupted has absolutely nothing to do with Albo, the ACT Public Service and the ALP wanting to continually downplay days of national significance, has it? You must think all your readers have the same political biases and opinions? Well they don’t Chris.

I have relatives who were killed and others traumatised through the World Wars, and a friend and acquaintances damaged by war in Vietnam. I have been able to visit one of the graves amid many thousands in northern France, and understood the effects still on their surviving siblings and on my parents.

Only one of the above was actually defending Australia.

On what basis does anyone here believe they have any right to tell me how, or when, or where I should remember them? It is that attitude which is contemptible.

Malcolm Roxburgh2:00 pm 23 Apr 24

Reconciliation Day is one day that I think divides a nation, and Canberra day is just a self hug. Drop these 2 days and make ANZAC Day compulsory.

A self hug…..for what? We already have a Nation Day it’s called Australia Day, remember? You know the day the ALP continues to say it supports but then does everything to downplay and discourage.

We absolutely should not be allowed to swap this day out as Australian Public Servants. It’s the only sacred public holiday outside Christmas and Easter and it commemorates our most cherished group of people … those who’ve died, been injured or survived war in the service of protecting the rest of us and our national interests. The fact anyone would even consider not observing this one day (particularly other public servants) is to me unAustralian. Either observe it or lose it. No other option is acceptable.

As a proud first generation Australian, I love our country and the values it stands for. But Anzac has never resonated with me. I don’t feel moved by a far off campaign that was launched for imperial reasons, amounted to what now be called an invasion, and which had nothing to do with the defence of the homeland. Can we find a different occasion to commemorate mateship and contemporary Australian values?

Especially when sadly there are plenty in the establishment that use ANZAC Day to glorify way and glorify militarism as well – even if it is done with a fairly subtle tone. It is so far from what it should be – I wish we placed the emphasis on remembrance day instead, like most countries do – where you remember the mundane waste of human life that wars are.

I suspect the number of public servants who actually decline to take the holiday on the day can be counted on very few hands.

Peter Graves10:37 am 23 Apr 24

Mmm – Anzac Day may (very probably) not mean much – at all – to those migrants who arrived here from Turkey. It is fitting that the Kemal Ataturk Memorial is placed next to Anzac Parade in Canberra.

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