You would have thought after last year, public figures would stay well away from any perception of exploiting ANZAC Day for your own political purpose. But you’d have been wrong.
In a televised advertisement for the gambling industry, Glenorchy RSL President, John Chivers, recently claimed that a ban on poker machines in pubs would mean the end of ANZAC Day in the Glenorchy area.
I have said previously that a ban on poker machines will not be without consequences so Mr Chivers had a number of possible consequences to scare us with. Some of them might have even been true, or at least plausible. But he chose ANZAC Day deliberately, wanting to maximise the impact of his words.
Aside from being crass exploitation, it is also obviously false. As a number of people commented, even in the highly unlikely Glenorchy RSL really can’t exist without poker machines and was to fold, ANZAC Day services would almost certainly still be carried out by community groups or the council itself. Failing that, Glenorchy residents would also have the option of attending services at any number of venues around the state.
Now in fairness, I have to admit that these claims were met with the ridicule and scorn they deserved in some quarters, with the Tasmanian RSL considering action against the sub branch at the time I write this. But aside from this, in little over a week the controversy was over, barely raising a ripple of concern outside of the state or eliciting even a word of condemnation from the conservative MPs, radio shock jocks and Newscorp hacks who lined up for their turns at kicking Yassmin Abdel-Magied for the same thing last year.
For the record, I was critical of Ms Abdel-Magied too, but I also wrote at the time that much of the most extreme criticism directed at her was blatant hypocrisy, coming as it did from self-styled freedom of speech champions such as Bernardi, Bolt and Hanson, as well as their Liberal Party accomplices. Not that their hypocrisy was really in doubt, but their mute response of Mr Chivers’ politicisation of ANZAC Day this year shows just how beholden they are to their corporate masters.
It also shows that you actually can exploit ANZAC Day to make a political statement without significant repercussion after all. Just don’t have the temerity to do it if you are female, progressive or have dark skin- let alone all three of them.