6 times Malcolm Turnbull has insulted our Defence Forces

18th October, 2016

1. Not attending a repatriation ceremony for fallen servicemen

In June of 2016, during the federal election campaign, both Turnbull and Bill Shorten failed to attend a repatriation ceremony for 33 of Australia’s fallen Vietnam servicemen at Richmond RAAF Base in NSW.

Turnbull was instead campaigning at a Sydney business that sells luxury mattresses, just 47km away. Shorten was at a fish market.

Furthermore, Turnbull did not invite Tony Abbott to attend in his stead, even though it was Abbott who, as Prime Minister, organised the repatriation.

Later, in August, both Turnbull and Shorten attended a ‘welcome home’ event for Australia’s Olympians. Warren Mundine made an important observation about Turnbull’s (and Shorten’s) priorities:

2. Not attending WW1 100th anniversary commemorations

In July of 2016 Malcolm Turnbull did not attend 100th anniversary commemorations of the first and most deadly battles involving Australians on the Western Front during World War One.

The Australian newspaper called him a “disgrace” with Associate Editor Cameron Stewart writing:

“This was not just another war commemoration, it was the biggest anniversary of the worst part of the most devastating war Australia has been involved in. Yet the Prime Minister chose not to prioritise his schedule to pay his respects on these battlefields to the 46,000 soldiers who gave their lives on the Western Front.”

3. Abolishing the Lone Pine ANZAC Day Ceremony

In February 2016 it was revealed that the Turnbull Government had abolished the ANZAC Day ceremony at Lone Pine, absurdly citing ‘rough terrain’ in the area. After pressure from the Returned Services League (RSL) and, of all people, Bill Shorten, a compromise was agreed upon.

4. Pushing for a change to the Australian flag

Turnbull has been a longtime opponent of our flag, under which so many have suffered and fallen in war.

In November 1988 he became a director of AusFlag, an organisation dedicated to radically changing the Australian flag.

In the early 1990s he praised Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating’s campaign against the flag, and publicly agitated for a change, including op-ed pieces in The Australian and Canberra Times newspapers.

At that time, Tony Abbott identified the push to change the flag, and make Australia a republic, as part of a nefarious ideological agenda:

“[George] Winterton’s flippant remark that Malcolm Turnbull might be Australia’s first President, is very revealing about the Turnbull committee’s dynamics… [Turnbull] displays a bully streak when crossed ― and his threats to the parliamentary seats of Liberal (but not Labor) monarchists have made him look like a Keating stooge.…many republicans don’t want to celebrate our identity ― but to change it ― and the dump-the-Queen-change-the-flag push is just the latest expression of the “black armband” view of Australian history, that we are an illegitimate nation redeemable only by up-rooting our past.”

Turnbull continued to campaign for changing the flag, with his investment banking company, Turnbull and Partners, sponsoring an exhibition of alternative national flag designs in 1996.1

Amidst his quest for Liberal pre-selection in 2004, when conservatives had greater influence over the party, Turnbull claimed to have changed his view on the flag. Ausflag executive director Harold Scruby commented on Turnbull’s sudden, seeming change:

“This man is Australia′s consummate chameleon. It brings to mind the saying that politics is like rowing, because you can face one way and go the other. Ausflag is awarding Malcolm Turnbull Olympic gold in single political sculling.”

His level of deceit in this matter can, I think, be garnered from his recent choice of art for his parliamentary offices. One work depicts an ‘aboriginal’ flag flying alone, without an Australian flag, over Old Parliament House.

This artwork, showing an ‘aboriginal flag’ flying over Old Parliament House, is hanging in Malcolm Turnbull’s parliamentary office.

5. Defended the ABC amidst its attacks on Navy personnel

In January 2014 the ABC launched an attack on Royal Australian Navy personnel, airing outlandish “torture” allegations from unauthorised boat immigrants. These allegations were soon discredited.

In an interview on Sydney radio, on the 30th of January, the then Prime Minister Tony Abbott responded saying:

“…a lot of people feel at the moment that the ABC instinctively takes everyone’s side but Australia’s… you shouldn’t leap to be critical of your own country and you certainly ought to be prepared to give the Australian Navy and its hardworking personnel the benefit of the doubt.”

The Defence Minister, David Johnston, was more explicit, saying:

“My people have been spat on, abused, treated like servants and have endured all of that to save more than a thousand lives. And yet they’ve also had to endure the horror of fishing out hundreds of people floating, dead in the water…I am absolutely sick to the stomach that this Australian iconic news agency would attack the Navy in the way that it has.

Nevertheless, that very evening, Turnbull was on the ABC’s 7.30 program publicly praising ABC Managing Director Mark Scott, who presided over the largest and most left-biased incarnation of the ABC in history. Turnbull said:

“Mark Scott is an outstanding executive and I have great confidence in him.”

Further, Turnbull needles the ABC’s critics by saying the following, with regard to the ABC’s accountability:

“What’s the alternative … the editor-in-chief [of the ABC] becomes the Prime Minister?’… Politicians, whether Prime Ministers or Communications Ministers, will often be unhappy with the ABC … but you can’t tell them what to write.”

Turnbull later proves himself wrong by intervening (following public pressure) in the Zaky Mallah ABC case, as well as the Scott McIntyre SBS case.

6. Inexperienced ministerial appointments

In a February 2016 article in The Australian newspaper, Foreign Editor Greg Sheridan explains Turnbull’s lack of respect for the Defence portfolio:

“The big loser in the latest ministerial reshuffle was the defence portfolio. It has consistently been the loser in the five months of the Turnbull government…every single junior minister and assistant minister in the defence portfolio is new and inexperienced.”


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1. Steketee, M. (2004, Aug 20). Turnbull stars in double-cross on flag. The Australian.