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No peace on Remembrance Day as NCA refuses bid for Anzac Parade vigil

By Ian Bushnell 3 October 2018 21

Wreaths honouring Australia’s war dead at last year’s commemoration. MAPW want to display the message “Honour Them – Promote Peace Photo: Jack Mohr.

The National Capital Authority’s refusal to permit a peace group to hold a silent vigil during the centenary Remembrance Day commemoration has incensed supporters and raised doubts about the national event’s inclusiveness.

The Medical Association for Prevention of War (MAPW) had applied to the NCA to hold a Gathering for Peace on Anzac Parade at the 11th hour on 11 November but were told in a one-line response that “unfortunately the National Capital Authority is unable to approve your booking as Anzac Parade and Rond Terrace (including Memorials) is reserved exclusively for the 2018 Remembrance Day Commemorations”.

The group is perplexed and angered by the NCA’s decision which had also drawn the fire of former Catholic Bishop Pat Power, and noted war historian Professor Peter Stanley, who called the decision ‘stupid’ and ‘utterly incomprehensible’.

MAPW President Dr Sue Wareham said the group’s intention was to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War and Australia’s 60,000 dead but also send a message of peace.

The group intended to carry a single sign saying “Honour Them – Promote Peace”.

It’s a message that Dr Wareham believes has been glossed over during the World War 1 centenary activities of the past five years, and one which the group believes should be a prominent part of the Remembrance Day commemoration.

“We don’t have a lot of faith that what the Australian War Memorial is planning for Remembrance Day is truly going to be in the spirit of the ‘war to end all wars’ and what we should be learning from that,” Dr Wareham said.

“We wonder also what the Diggers would have thought at the notion that a bunch of officials can tell a citizens group that they can’t display a peace message in a prominent place on Armistice Day. We can’t imagine they would have been very impressed by that,” she said.

She said that if the authorities could be embarrassed by a peace message on Remembrance Day then Australia had got big problems about how it commemorated World War 1.

The group was also concerned at arms manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin sponsoring the AWM and events such this.

“When you’ve got the world’s biggest arms maker whose profits rely on countries going to war or threats of war, it doesn’t give one much hope that there’s going to be a peace message there,” Dr Wareham said.

If the NCA was concerned about the commemoration being disrupted, it should have consulted the Australian Federal Police with whom MAPW had had many dealings to confirm its commitment to peaceful activity, she said.

Dr Wareham said the people involved were not opposed to having armed forces for defence but with Australia at war since 2001, “clearly we are not keeping our country at peace, and war is increasingly becoming the norm for us”.

“We need to rethink notions of security and how best to achieve our security. Military protection of Australia is legitimate and important but our policies at the moment go way beyond that. We are going to war in distant parts of the world that are nothing to do with our security,” she said.

In a short reply to Dr Wareham today AWM Director Brendan Nelson said she and her colleagues “are welcome to join the thousands of Australians here at the Australian War Memorial on Remembrance Day remembering our dead and maimed in support of a peaceful world”.

The AWM did not respond to questions but issued a statement similar to that sent to Dr Wareham: “Anyone who wants to pay their respects to the dead and maimed, and express their support for peace, is welcome to join thousands of Australians who will be honouring them here at the Memorial at the Remembrance Day National Ceremony.”

Retired Catholic Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn, Pat Power said: “As we commemorate the end of a period of human suffering on a scale that is hard to imagine, it is imperative that the need for peace is uppermost and visible in Remembrance Day commemorations. Tragically, this message has become almost lost over the past four years with our nation’s focus on battles and military campaigns. The role of ordinary citizens in redressing the balance by promoting peace is critically important, especially at key commemorative times and places.”

Professor Stanley, who is not a member of MAPW, blasted the NCA as anti-democratic, saying it was an absolute affront that Australians are told by a faceless bureaucrat, without a valid reason, that they can’t exercise their democratic rights.

“The NCA appears to have forgotten what it exists for, to serve the people of Australia using the national places, and Anzac Parade should be used by Australians of whatever persuasion in a way that’s fitting,” he said

“People conducting a silent vigil couldn’t ever be described as inappropriate, or not in accord with the day.

“Is this the democracy for which 60,000 Australians died in the Great War?”

Professor Stanley said it would seem that the only commemoration allowed was that which was officially organised, but, just as 100 years ago when people responded in different ways to the news of the Armistice, everyone will not think the same about it today.

“Having done its best to get us interested in the Great War for five years, the bureaucrats have suddenly discovered that people are interested in it and what they are saying is there should be no more wars,” he said.

“That’s not the message they thought they were fostering, they thought the message was to remember the sacrifice of 60,000 a century ago, which is a good thing to do, and we should do that. The thing about history is that people draw their own conclusions.

“Now these people have quite reasonably drawn the conclusion that, as the Governor-General, Lord Gowrie, said when he opened the AWM in 1941, ‘Never again’, these people with their silent vigil are also saying, ‘Never again’.

“Somehow the Government through the NCA is saying we can’t have people saying that. Why can’t we?”

A spokeswoman for Minister for Veterans Affairs Darren Chester said the Australian Government was working closely with the State, Territory and local governments on a national approach and recognition of one minute’s silence for Remembrance Day.

“The Australian War Memorial, in conjunction with the ACT Government and local authorities, have a comprehensive program of events planned to commemorate the Armistice on Remembrance Day 2018 in Canberra.  All communication and interest in the events on Anzac Parade should be referred to those authorities,” she said.

A spokesperson from the NCA said that on 11 November 2018, Anzac Parade (including the Memorials) had been reserved exclusively for the AWM for the 2018 Remembrance Day Commemorations.

“Once an event booking is confirmed, the venue is then not available to be reserved by another event organiser,” the spokesperson said.

  • The AWM will host the nation’s key commemoration from 10.30 am to noon on Sunday, 11 November. The ceremony includes a formal wreath-laying and will be attended by many high-level dignitaries, diplomats, school students, as well as thousands of members of the general public. Australia’s Federation Guard and the Band of the Royal Military College, Duntroon will be on parade, and there will be a special commemorative address.

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21 Responses to
No peace on Remembrance Day as NCA refuses bid for Anzac Parade vigil
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astro2 6:19 am 06 Oct 18

Actually, no, Lucy, they are engaging in a commemoration of the 60,000 lives lost in WW1, that is not a ‘stunt’, it is showing respect for the dead.

Lucy Baker 9:42 pm 05 Oct 18

It’s the soldiers’ day and Sue Wareham and Peter Stanley (surprising that a war historian should behave like this) were planning to engage in a disruptive stunt. They can have their peaceful vigil elsewhere. Perhaps behind the War Memorial?

petunia petal 8:00 pm 05 Oct 18

With ‘corporate partners’ like Raytheon, which produces and sells weapons to dictatorships like Saudi Arabia to use to starve and bomb defenceless starving civilians… I don’t have too much respect for the direction the war memorial is heading down. How on earth can a respectful silent commemoration, which will not interfere with anyone else, simply holding one sign saying “Honour them promote peace” be denied.? Australia is becoming obsessed with the glorification of war and the military like the US, with fewer living people actually having experienced the civilian horrors or wars. This is just another example.

Beth Wright 12:59 am 05 Oct 18

https://amp.canberratimes.com.au/national/act/canberra-doctor-sue-wareham-part-of-nobel-peace-prize-winning-team-20171019-gz4adv.html

chewy14 8:53 pm 04 Oct 18

I’m wondering how many people that object to the NCA stopping this group from their silent protest support banning the silent protests of Christians outside abortion clinics?

I have a feeling there’d be a massive overlap.

    astro2 6:48 pm 05 Oct 18

    Hmmm…yeahs. I’m wondering how many of them eat porridge for breakfast. Probably a big overlap there too….And just about as relevant to the topic; which is: the concern about forbidding silent protests about World War 1, concern about the creeping glorification of war and the sponsorship of commemorations by arms manufacturers. Mate, try a bit harder to stay on topic.

    chewy14 9:46 pm 05 Oct 18

    The topic is the prevention of protests in public places.

    It literally is the topic.

    And yet when the debates around those Christian protesters were had, the Green left who make up a large percentage of MAPW’s supporter base were actively pushing for the prevention of those protests.

    Funny now that the shoe is on the other foot isn’t it?

    The ever increasing degradation of freedoms in our country is something we should all be scared of. If only some weren’t so hypocritical in their stance.

    astro2 6:22 am 06 Oct 18

    No, actually, the shoe is not on the other foot, you’ve just extrapolated with no evidence whatsoever that people who are organising a vigil for the dead in WW1 have a certain view about protests regarding pregnancy termination. Which, as I previously said, has nothing to do with the topic and everything to do with your prejudice.

    chewy14 12:01 pm 06 Oct 18

    Um the evidence is in the supporter base of MAPW. If you don’t know who makes up a large percentage of that base, then you’re simply ill-informed.

    I haven’t extrapolated anything, simply followed the issue and who’s suddenly speaking up in support.

    If you want to talk about this issue, do you support the public having access to peacefully protest against whatever they wish in public spaces or not?

    astro2 8:24 pm 06 Oct 18

    Your conspiracy theory is right out of the Daily Tele script for stereotyping. It’s simply not evidence-based. Also no one is “suddenly” speaking up in support. The people cited in the article are a retired Catholic bishop, a professor and war historian and a doctor who is the President of the Medical Association for the Prevention of War. If you don’t think that the centenary of the end of the First World War should focus on preventing future wars then you’ve completely missed the point. If you think that arms manufacturers sponsoring such events is appropriate then perhaps try to read a bit more history (particularly the tragedy that was WW1.)

    chewy14 10:51 pm 06 Oct 18

    It is evidence based, you just don’t like the reality because you clearly support them.

    The president of MAPW:
    https://greenagenda.org.au/author/sue-wareham/

    The vice president:
    https://greensoncouncil.org.au/lynne-saville/

    Some more:
    http://www.icanw.org/au/parlimentary-appeal-week/

    Oops.

    And perhaps you’d like to not dodge the question, I’ll ask again.

    Do you support the public having access to peacefully protest against whatever they wish in public spaces or not?

    astro2 5:59 pm 07 Oct 18

    Hi there, did you say “oops” because you attached the wrong link? These don’t seem to be related to your previous posts. Is it meant to be something about opposing abortion clinic protests? Perhaps it is there somewhere but you just haven’t accurately cited the reference. Whichever way, if you have a look over all the posts in relation to this article – and perhaps also re-read the article, you’ll find it’s about the banning of a peaceful remembrance of WW1 and that we should focus on prevention of further wars, not potentially glorify them by having arms manufacturers sponsor the official proceedings. There’s an obvious conflict of interest there. It’s not so much that your argument is right or wrong, just not relevant to the topic of the article. You also appear to be drawing conclusions about some of the people cited in the article without any evidence.

    chewy14 1:06 pm 08 Oct 18

    No,
    The oops is for you in having your opinion proven wrong, but it seems instead of admitting you were wrong, you want to double down whilst still not being able to answer a simple question.

    The people mentioned are members of the Greens political party.

    The party whose stated policy is to prevent peaceful protests in areas where they believe people should not be able to protest.

    Locally and federally they have promoted or supported such legislation.

    https://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/act/greens-abortion-exclusion-zone-plan-to-pass-legislative-assembly-20151028-gkl2ua.html

    So yes, it is funny now the shoe is on the other foot and these protesters are being prevented from being able to assemble where they wish in an issue that’s important to them.

    The issue being discussed is the prevention of peaceful protests in public spaces, so your claims about being off topic just don’t stack up.

    You don’t get to pick and choose whether you support people being able to protest based on whether you personally agree with those protests or not.

    Hypocrisy often has a way of biting you in the backside.

DavidStephens 8:53 am 04 Oct 18

Increasingly, we are seeing a narrowing of what are the acceptable forms of commemoration. Now it is the version that the War Memorial and the NCA decree. World War I bereaved families got a medal from the King saying their son or brother died for freedom and honour. Surely that freedom includes the freedom to commemorate in one’s own way.

astro2 9:30 pm 03 Oct 18

“If, in some smothering dreams, you too could pace behind the wagon that we flung him in, And watch the white eyes writhing in his face… If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood come gurgling from the froth-corrupted lungs… My friend, you would not tell, with such high zest, to children ardent for some desperate glory, the old lie: Dulcie et decorum est pro patria mori.” (It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country). Wilfred Owen 1893 – 1918, killed in action in the last week of the First World War.

Michael Doyle 9:11 pm 03 Oct 18

Sometimes these "Peace Groups" amuse me. Their failure to comprehend that "Remembrance Day" is for the nation to pause, give thanks to those of our forebears who , whether they liked war or not, were actually quite prepared to do something about dealing with those who wanted war - a war that the ''messengers of peace" crowd completely failed to prevent occurring. The phrase (as best I recall it) "Si Vis Pacem Parabellum" comes to mind.😃

Suzanne Tunks 8:53 pm 03 Oct 18

There's nothing better to honour the dead of war than promoting peace. I wish there were no dead to honour. War is horrendous 🙁

Veronika Sain 8:20 pm 03 Oct 18

Protests seem bad form on Remembrance Day where people still mourn their dead family members. This group can go stand outside parliament if they want to make what is obviously a political point aimed at gaining media attention.

Julie Coker-Godson 6:28 pm 03 Oct 18

Good! Don't use our remembrance days to try and make political points. It's not on - it's not about you.

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