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John Sanderson
Archive number: 2533
Date interviewed: 08 July, 2000

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Commander United Nations Force
Cambodia
John Sanderson 2533

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Lieutenant General John Murray Sanderson AC served as Australia's Chief of Army from 1995 to 1998.

This interview was filmed for the television series Australians at War in 1999-2000.
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Transcript

Tape 124
NB. This transcript is of an interview filmed for the television series, Australians at War in 1999-2000. It was incorporated into the Archive in 2007.

124:04:38:00

Mr Sanderson, the Cambodian operation, do you just want to tell us a little about that, about your role in it, and the importance of an Australian commander being there?
Well this was the first, large, multifaceted, complex peacekeeping operation after the end of the Cold War. I suppose

124:05:00:00

you could say Namibia was a multifaceted, post Cold War operation, but it was much smaller and it didn’t involve the same sort of responsibilities that Cambodia did. Cambodia was a very bold undertaking on the part of the international community. You know, the idea was actually to hold a nation in a sort of crust, by supervising the administrations and taking them through a process where they ended up with a government. And my role was the force commander. I

124:05:30:00

commanded a United Nations Force, some thirty-four nations, about sixteen thousand strong and most of those nations were on their first serious peacekeeping endeavour. So it was very complex bringing those people to a realisation of what it was all about and holding them together through what turned out to be a fairly torrid experience. But we pulled it off, and Cambodia ended up with a government. I think that the Cambodian people

124:06:00:00

probably were primarily responsible for that, they really wanted the UN [United Nations] to succeed and they showed a lot of courage but we made the opportunity available for them. I think probably it was a paradigm for the modern peacekeeping experiences of the UN and so many modalities were established in the Paris Agreements in 1991 that all these

124:06:30:00

forces came into play that hadn’t been on UN peace building or peace operations before. Like human rights components and electoral components and, you know, reconstructionary rehabilitation, resettlement, you know, all those things came together in the Cambodian operation. And they’ve been a part of operations increasingly since then.
It’s been, having just discussed with you the need not to be topical; there has been recent questioning with Australia’s relationship with the United Nations

124:07:00:00

and some of it’s independent committees and I know it seems to be just a little bit of ‘keep your nose out of our domestic affairs’. But nonetheless, how important is this continuing relationship between Australia and the United Nations in your view?
Well I think it’s important for every nation. I mean the whole philosophy of an international body like the UN is that people agree to sacrifice part of their sovereignty to establish international order.

124:07:30:00

And this was the problem with the League of Nations of course, that occurred between the two world wars. It just didn’t get enough national commitment to that international sacrifice of sovereignty. And the United States for example didn’t even join the League of Nations. So, you know, the idea that this international body can put together what really stands for international law in the form of conventions and protocols

124:08:00:00

and people all agree to obey those, they ratify them and put them into their own law is a very important part of the future international order. Now, I think most nations, at some stage have some trouble with these international conventions and protocols and of course when they start to impact on domestic politics, you’ve got a problem. But nevertheless my instincts are that it must go forward. I mean we’re coming

124:08:30:00

together in a much more significant way. This globalisation thing is a reality. And there has to be a set of international laws to moderate that. And therefore, you can’t just obey one law and not another, if you actually ratify it.
How come you got the job, well Australia got the gig and Cambodia, how? How did we get that job?
Well, we were intensely involved with the idea of the United Nations as a

124:09:00:00

transition authority, and [Foreign Minister] Gareth Evans and his team from [Australian Department of] Foreign Affairs [and Trade], together with a defence contribution, put the proposal to the Paris conference. It was in the form of the red book [a proposal to the UN], the so called red book. It was taken up as a solution to Cambodia’s problems. And the Cambodians couldn’t agree amongst themselves who should run the country while they went through the electoral and constitutional process. And so

124:09:30:00

the idea that the UN should do that was essentially an Australian idea and a number of Australians were involved in that process and in view of the fact that there was a reasonable endeavour too. I mean, it was the first big UN effort in this region. The idea of having an Australian as commander was one that took hold fairly early. It was contested; I mean I think the French would have liked to have had

124:10:00:00

a commander. I’m not sure that the rest of the regional nations would have preferred a commander, but I guess there were people from outside the region from the traditional peacekeeping countries, like Scandinavian countries as well, yeah, those sort of places. But this was, I think appropriate for us to command.
For a soldier of your generation, who, having experienced,

124:10:30:00

it’s wrong I know to call Vietnam a conventional war, but it is conventional in the sense that there is a clearly defined foe and one battles it out to gain a superior hand. From that sort of conventional warfare, to peacekeeping, is a major shift isn’t it? I mean it’s a shift in the paradigm anyway, for those forces. Did you have trouble with that as a more conventional, or traditional, should I say soldier?
Well not really you see I mean, the fact of the matter

124:11:00:00

is that all wars since 1945 have been limited either in time or geographic dimension. And I think that the weapons of mass destruction have actually created that necessity. So, there has been a sort of continuum and Australia has been very much a part of that experience. And what we did in Cambodia was more like what was done in Malaya during the Emergency, if you think about it. There was an insurgency in Malaya, but there also was also independence offering at the

124:11:30:00

end so the people ended up with their own government. That was very, very similar and we’d been involved in those sort of things throughout the 50’s and the 60’s. The Vietnam War is limited in time and space. There were a lot of people who had great difficulties with the way in which that war was fought, but there were aspects of the war, components of it, in various parts of the country which fitted in. And in fact down in

124:12:00:00

Phuoc Tuy Province, where the Australians made their main effort, we were intensely involved in what was called psychological operations and civic action, which were part of a nation building, if I can put it that way. So it wasn’t entirely separate from what we did in Cambodia.
Talking to General Cosgrove about INTERFET [International Force East Timor] and the operation in Timor, I commented as to how regularly we saw him on television

124:12:30:00

quoting the mandate as though he was constantly aware of those limitations of his operation there and what his basic function was in I think the sort of questioning that probably didn’t exist in earlier conflicts, certainly not in the World Wars when the brief was much clearer.
Well his mandate did come from the Security Council. You see, first of all his operation was totally different to the Cambodian operation, it was a very short term enforcement

124:13:00:00

operation designed to stabilise the situation and get a humanitarian thing going. The UNTAET [United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor] operation, the transition administration in East Timor is more like the Cambodian thing. Because they’re in the process of bringing all those civilian components together and building a government in East Timor so, and I think this is a much more problematical thing, you know. But his, it was instantaneous, but nevertheless, and constant international focus

124:13:30:00

with a mandate from the Security Council, and it was mandate to which the Indonesians had agreed incidentally. So in a sense, he was enforcing the international writ if you like, on the militia who in theory hadn’t agreed with the outcome of this consultation. So, it was a very much, an international thing with a mandate which was

124:14:00:00

limited, I mean the idea was that he control the situation so that eventually a United Nations transition administration could come in and fulfil something which was totally different.
It does point out though, doesn’t it that, I mean, in looking at peacekeeping, peace monitoring, operations Australia has been involved, I mean together with the observers in the Golan Heights for instance where

124:14:30:00

there has been an Australian presence since the 50’s. And we’re just back from Bougainville where there is a completely different operation, larger numbers but unarmed and a more civil action sort of activity. So it points to me, to the diversity of operations that the ADF [Australian Defence Force] can get involved in.
Oh yes. I mean, each one of these operations is unique, I mean the circumstances in which they’re conducted makes them unique. There was a desire on

124:15:00:00

the part of the traditional peacekeepers if I can put it that way, to sort of have a template, you know this is the way you do things and you dare not do other things and in fact, they were very much in the truce observance thing. You know there was an agreement, they were completely neutral and they sort of facilitated the agreement on behalf of the opposing factions. But they were there by consent, and they were there as a completely neutral party in the whole thing.

124:15:30:00

These internal things, or intra-state things, which are the new sort of complex type of peacekeeping. You carry a lot of baggage into the area with you. You carry all this international law, all these conventions and protocols which relate to human rights and so on and you know, this is a totally new dimension. You can’t be absolutely neutral or impartial, because you actually are a flag bearer for the international order if you like.

124:16:00:00

And that is problematical too, because what we have is a situation where people are asking you to actually enforce the writ of the international community and yet you’re on a peacekeeping mission. We’ve got a new situation now with UNTAET and the Kosovo force where they are actually, they look like a peacekeeping force but they are enforcing the peace. The special rep [representative] is responsible for the enforcement

124:16:30:00

of the law. And I’m surprised that there hasn’t been a lot more debate about that issue and what it means.
So you mean in a sense, of needing to establish the peace before you can …
No, what they’ve been given. They’ve been given the powers which relate to a colonial governor under the old colonial systems. I’ve said that Sergio De Mello [head of UN in East Timor] in East Timor has the power of a Roman provincial governor of two thousand years ago. His role is to enforce the law,

124:17:00:00

he makes the law, in consultation with the community. He amends the law and he enforces the law. I don’t think the UN is quite ready for it yet.
Just bring it back to the ADF, I mean there are critics of peacekeeping who argue for instance that continual role in this area can be detrimental to the prime function, which is the defence force, would you hold with that view?

124:17:30:00

No not at all. As I said to you, I think every war since 1945 has been limited anyway. There have been very strong political controls on what the military actually does, how it fights it war and this occurred in Vietnam in particular you see. I mean there was a lot of difficulty with the degree of civilian control and political control over the commanders in the field. But there was also a great concern to make sure

124:18:00:00

that this thing didn’t spread and become something much larger than what was originally intended. Peacekeeping has got all of those sorts of dimensions to it. But nevertheless there can be moments of great intensity in terms of conflict within a peacekeeping environment and the people who are best able to manage that are highly trained soldiers who are trained for conflict. My experience is that those

124:18:30:00

that are trained for war and have good leadership right down through the whole system are the best peacekeepers.
Right, I’m thinking here a little of the Canadian example which is often quoted where it’s claimed that no decision has been made, that it won’t be a defence force that will just engage in peacekeeping. Would you hold to that, is that a view we can afford in Australia?
No we can’t. But our situation is different

124:19:00:00

to the Canadian situation. I mean, the relationship of the New Zealanders to us is more like the relationship of the Canadians to the United States, you see. So the Canadians are actually you know sitting there in the ambiance of the United States and they are making these sorts of decisions almost as though you know the United States will look after their larger defence problems.
Well a converse to that, are you happy in terms of its relation to New Zealand

124:19:30:00

if it downgrades its or abandons its air force for instance?
I’m of the view that New Zealand should make a contribution to both the external defence of this region, so you know, however that’s something for the New Zealanders. In the fullness of time of course we are going to have to come to terms with a greater regional relationship in my view, I think that’s one of the, sort of dimensions of the

124:20:00:00

new strategic review which needs to be addressed. How are we going to manage the conflict that emerges in the environment around us? Are we just going to sit back on the continent and say, well that’s not any of our problem, or are we going to engage in it? And how are we going to engage in it? That’s an issue of great interest to me.
And I think one of the questions is, you know presumably one can become

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involved in the regions still with this international relationship with the UN, I mean if the UN asked us to help in the Solomons or Fiji for that matter, we are steering around all these potential troublesome spots, we would. But should that mean that we say, we only want to do this region and not get involved in Africa or the Golan Heights or the Sinai?
Well you know in recent times the Secretary General of the UN has taken to proffering the

124:21:00:00

view that individual rights now are equal to a states or sovereign rights, that regional alliances should engage in solving regional problems. I mean he’s obviously had problems with what’s been going on in Africa and the tardiness of the international community in addressing the African problem so he’s proposing that African regional organisations do that

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just as NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organisation] has done in the case of Europe. And I would assume that when he talks about us as a sort of a model United Nations citizen, that he’s talking about us engaging regionally to solve regional problems. I would expect a lot more of this to come from the international community.
It makes sense though. In your view, once again not getting into current talks about

124:22:00:00

strategic matters, but in your view we saw INTERFET Australian [UNCLEAR] I don’t think there is any secret about that. I think we know we couldn’t have kept that strength of soldiers there indefinitely or even probably for the next tour of duty without having to make extreme recruiting efforts. In your view, are we defendable?
Yes we are, but we need to have a totally different strategic approach to that.

124:22:30:00

I mean I think it’s a whole of nation approach and I’m not saying we need everyone in uniform or universal conscription or anything like that. But basically it’s recognising that security is also a part of national development and sort of gearing up our nation so there is a new dynamic which not only develops the nation but picks up the security dimension as part of the total development. And I’m

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sure that we’re defendable. I mean the biggest issue in being defendable is national unity and I think we are a very fortunate nation in that regard.
So trying to get to nuts and bolts here, you’re talking about a mind set situation. I mean in practical terms does this mean we should be more prepared to have an extensive reserve or should there be a part time …?
Yes, but I mean, in this day and age the idea of having an untrained reserve

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is irrelevant. I mean, you’ve got to be trained and that’s been the big problem with the relationship between the regular army for example and the reserve in recent years. The reserve has not been trained to take up a role at high levels of readiness. And there is a demand for it to do so. I mean this is clearly …

124:24:00:00

Yes, tell me about this attitude, this national attitude in relation to defence?
Well I don’t think we should be surprised about it I mean, our whole defence strategy for most of the period of our existence as a nation has been about either the British Empire defending us or the Americans defending us.

124:24:30:00

And that’s very good. I mean, being part of the western alliance and sharing those sort of cultural and historical traditions. But you know, as we move into the 21st century where we’ve got to stand up on our own two feet and do things which are important for our region. So this requires us to start thinking about a more independent strategy even though it might be in the context of the

124:25:00:00

international order. We have to carry our weight in a way that we perhaps haven’t done in the past.
I think a lot of Australians aren’t aware of the fact that we, within our region, our air force, despite the fact that they’re old F1-11s [strategic bomber, reconnaissance and tactical strike aircraft] I mean is a formidable force, outgunning any of our main enemies. And the navy similarly, especially with the new submarine fleet. And even though we seem to be stretched in raising battalions of solely foot soldiers we are nonetheless a

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formidable regional force. Does that create an obligation for sort of showing off that force? I mean what should we do with the knowledge of that power?
Well, my instincts about that is that eventually we are going to have to project power off the continent and my own view of this is that you shouldn’t project power from bases that you can’t defend. So we need a total construct. One that

124:26:00:00

can defend the continent on the maritime approaches and a capacity to operate off the continent to be engaged in our region. And while I’m saying that, I’m not talking about having enemies in the region, I’m talking about what’s going on in the rest of the world. There’s a great deal of turbulence and there’s a need to operate together to stabilise situations so that people can, you know

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start to, hope for participation in the way in which the world is developing and I think the sort of instability that we see around us actually detracts from the hopes and aspirations of young people and makes things worse, so I think we’ve got to be prepared to engage.
It’s interesting seeing footage of Doc Evatt [former Australian Foreign Affairs Minister] in the

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UN you know, making one of his very early speeches about how he saw this organisation as being the only true answer to world peace and yet, even though there haven’t been major world conflicts since that time, there have been an awful lot of fairly big conflicts. I mean does this, in your view, is it still fanciful to have that attitude towards the United Nations? I mean is it the answer to world peace?
No not at all. I think that it’s not fanciful I should say.

124:27:30:00

You know we need an international forum and we tend to look at the negative aspects of what we say. Okay why doesn’t it prevent all these mega-deaths in places like Rwanda and Somalia and Yugoslavia and so on, but there is an enormous range of other dimensions to the United Nations that are constantly going on, World Health Organisation, World Food Program, World Agricultural Organisation and on and on it goes. And

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there is a range of international conventions and protocols which actually temper the behaviour of nations and people and bring them together in a way in which we would be sorely placed without. So, I think the United Nations performs an absolutely vital role. I must say, Dr Evatt’s contribution to the UN was very significant. I think he had a large part in getting those

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individual right statements put into the charter. Because if you look at the charter, it’s all about the rights of sovereign states not about the rights of individuals and what we’ve seen is this transition towards what Kofi Annan [Secretary General of the UN] is saying, okay the rights of individuals is equal to the rights of sovereign states, that a profound, that’s a profound shift for the UN But I think Evatt had the idea that by getting those things in, it would be a catalyst for these changes and it is.

124:29:00:00

Let me just ask you a little bit. Have we discussed enough of Australia’s regional involvement do you think? Is there anything else you want to say about future obligations or our present situation in the region?
Well I mean frankly it’s clear that there is a significant shift going on in our region. It’s going to be hard for the nations of the region to meet the expectations of their populations.

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And one of the consequences of that, is a sort of a fragmentation, I mean the breaking up into tribal and other sort of groups and Australia, I think a large number in this country observe that we could end up with a wide number of mendicant states on our doorstep which would create a huge problem for us in the future. And the big issue is how do we avoid that? What do we do about it?

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It’s no good saying well this is going to happen. I mean we should be doing something about it and it seems to me that we have to be engaged probably more than what we have been in the past.
And engaged in more of a self help role for these states rather than …
Yeah and I’m not just talking about military endeavour I’m talking about the total combined endeavour to sort of get the region to focus on it’s problems and find regional solutions to it.
NB. This transcript is of an interview filmed for the television series, Australians at War in 1999-2000.
Interviewee: Lieutenant General John Sanderson AC Archive ID 2533 Tape 125

125:00:38:00

He was such a formidable man you know, we toured some of the outer islands with him and there was just pure deference in the traditional sense. Our heads below him all the time and all that sort of stuff and you just get the sense now though he’s just lost a lot of it and there is no chance that he will ever have that sort of control again. By it as an individual or sort of this royal family.
Yes.
It’s tragic.
Well I think a large part

125:01:00:00

of it’s down to the fact that they are just not able to meet the economical aspirations of it. I think, this is a global problem. I mean there is all these young people now who one way or another are starting to switch onto the global network, but the nations that they’re within cannot actually give them what they want.
So tell me, it’s like globalisation is like reintroducing a retribalisation at the moment, isn’t it, going back to …
Yeah. But I think

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you know before you reshape it’s like a liquefaction. It has to be broken down in order to be reshaped which is a horrifying thought.
I mean one of the interesting things about research in this series, is coming up with statistics which constantly sort of amaze and interest me, like the fact that in this century of war that we are dealing with one hundred and two thousands that have died in warfare.

125:02:00:00

Yes.
But one hundred thousand of those were before 1950, so it’s like since the last half century there is only two thousand, so a fraction of what was before. Is this a result of better war strategies or better technologies; is it a change of soldiering mindsets again?
I come back to the point that I made about the dropping of the nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and we haven’t had a global conflict of that nature since then.

125:02:30:00

Everybody is conscious of the fact that if you go towards absolute war, then there is a fair chance that you will let something go which will you know do terrible damage to not simply people but also to the total environment, you know the spaceship we’re all travelling on. So everything has been controlled since then. I mean the great powers have made a decided effort to control conflicts in sort of

125:03:00:00

space and time and therefore there hasn’t been this huge blood letting. And so that’s sort of the west has been able to stand off if you like. There has been a lot of killing inside these countries that have been having these civil wars if I can put it that way. The biggest worry at the moment is that the casualties amongst civilians outnumber military casualties by something in excess of four to one. And that’s actually an increasing thing. So…

125:03:30:00

The body count has changed.
Yes that’s right. That’s right. Yes. But the other thing is the old idea of industrial age warfare that’s sort of emerged fully in the First World War. In fighting what was 19th Century warfare in an industrial age, people just didn’t seem to understand what they were doing, they just kept pouring people into the

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gaps and the Germans of course, opened up with Blitzkrieg [means “lightning war”. Blitzkrieg was first used by the Germans in World War II and was a tactic based on speed and surprise and needed a military force to be based around light tank units supported by planes and infantry.] In the Second World War, it’s a totally different concept of warfare. In the Second World War we started killing civilians in a big way, for the first time, in modern history, just going for the civilians in places like Coventry and Hamburg and Dresden and so on, is

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an issue of great concern. The ultimate expression of that of course was the dropping of the two nuclear weapons on Japanese cities and that, I think was a very salutary thing.
In that century, I mean reading Kitchener & Roberts, in the Boer War they talk about the three great technological leaps forward to lead to the Boer war which was the train,

125:05:00:00

the machine gun, as primitive as it was, and barbed wire. They’re the three high tech devices that they were able to use to fight that war. Now, I mean, I read papers talking about you know radiation bombs, selective ways of destroying troops on the ground without destroying buildings and what have you. It seems over that century the whole technology of warfare has changed that it requires a different soldier

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in the 21st century, doesn’t it?
Yes, but you know, there was a, even though these weapons are around and if there was absolute war, they could be applied. It seems to me that there is a determined effort to avoid it. And one of the efforts that is being made is in absolute precision in the application of force. So that you, you pick out weapons that are very discriminating, systems

125:06:00:00

in a very discriminating way so that you don’t up the ante. But, you know, there are places where there is a sort of almost, what we would consider to be an irrational response to these types of things, so it’s all air bubbling away under the surface.
In terms of the solider himself, I mean one our historians refers to the average digger who went to the First World War as, or the Boer war, as a rifle wielding elector, you know, he’s somebody who has taken up arms for a purpose.

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Whereas now, we as a population hire people to do our warrior work for them. We have a profession of soldiers that we employ to do that task for us. It seems it’s completely changed responsibility of general population, that we are now happy to have people to do our fighting for us. And I guess that creates training expectations and that sort of thing.
Well I think there’s two ways of looking at that. One is that if you do go to absolute war,

125:07:00:00

than it’s all in, everybody is in. But in the sort of discriminating environment where you just you know try to finesse situations, then it’s probably something that’s best left to the professionals. And indeed, if you start to sort of mobilise in the total way that we used to think about these things, you’re actually provoking a

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expansion of the situation if you like. All the European nations are moving away from the universal conscription mobilisation model to professional armies. And this is a big shift for them. It’s a good thing I think because mobilisation philosophy of Europe causes enough trouble in the 20th century. But

125:08:00:00

yeah it is different, and it’s calling for much more highly trained and discriminating soldiers at increasingly junior levels, if I can sort of use that double negative. You know that we’re moving to smaller and smaller, but more lethal and sensitive units where young, young

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soldiers are required to make very powerful discriminating decisions. So they have to be more highly trained.
More than just ride a horse and shoot straight, like the advertisements, it’s war.
That’s right, yeah. Mind you I mean we put some great people in the field through those times. And the people that we put in the field for the First World War were lions really and they set a national ethos going in my view.

125:09:00:00

Do you want to talk a little bit about that. I mean one of the big issues that we look at in the eighth episode of the series is the idea of remembrance and trying to look at those Anzac roots if you like but the stuff that Charles Bean [WWI war correspondent and historian] used to write about. The qualities of those troops in Pozieres, and luckily of course, that set a standard for a national character. Do you believe that Australia’s involvement in the last century of war has moulded a good character?
I think there was that sense

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I mean, it’s very difficult to talk about the feeling that people had in those days. But I think there was the sense that here was this new nation and these people were setting the standards for the new nation. You know my own father was a member of the 2nd AIF [Australian Imperial Force] and he said to me on a number of occasions, you know the reason why the 2nd AIF was so good was because the 1st AIF was brilliant and they couldn’t let them down. You know

125:10:00:00

there was that sense that there was a continuum from that. And these young people went to war on a volunteer basis and I think they were widely recognised as having something special. So, my own instincts are that they had a sense of nation building, even though it was a sense of adventure that took them to it, there was also a sense of, okay we’re Australians and have a look at us.

125:10:30:00

There’s, and of course we commemorate that every year in a sense, in the Anzac ceremony. There was a period though and I remember it, I’m sure you do too, immediately following Vietnam when Anzac as such was not a particularly popular concept. I think the moratoriums and the unpopularity of that war left people, I mean you had to project that Anzac Day might fade away but yet in the last decade, there has been

125:11:00:00

phenomenal, and it is a phenomenal resurge of interest. Especially amongst young Australians. Do you know why that is? Or do you have any view about that?
No. I guess like most of us about this. I mean I think there is a sort of a great pride in the nation now. We’re moving away from most things which cause some conflict within the nation. Incidentally this conflict of the 60’s and 70’s was

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worldwide, particularly in the west, you know and we had that sort of ’68 revolution in the universities and it bubbled over into the 70’s, it wasn’t just about the Vietnam War. It was about you know, a change in the construct, in the social construct, but people seemed to be a bit more comfortable with where we’re at, at the moment. Even though I think we are in for another big round of change. But also have a sense of pride in past achievements. I’m

125:12:00:00

staggered and terribly pleased by the fact that there’s almost an exponential growth in young people turning out for these Anzac Day ceremonies and so on. And I think that it augers well for our nation. I must say, adding to this view, everywhere I’ve been overseas in the last decade and seen young Australians

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operating in the field and I’m not just talking about soldiers, I’m talking about people with the non-government organisations and the humanitarian organisations. Young Australians have been terribly impressive. They have an ability to actually get on with the job but a great sort of underlying compassion to the way in which they respond to the communities in which they work. So, I think we have cause for great pride in that. We’re doing something right. And maybe it’s drawing on that history too, which is actually adding to that dimension. So

125:13:00:00

I feel confident about our role this century.
It’s probably a needless question, but I’d like to ask you anyway. I mean, to you personally, what is Anzac Day about?
Well I think Anzac Day; I look on Anzac Day not just obviously as remembering Gallipoli but remembering the commitment of our young people since the foundation of our nation. To a set of values, you know. I actually, underlying, I think Australia is founded on a

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very strong set of values and there is an underlying compassion in the nation. I know that nothing’s perfect in this process but the idea of everybody having a fair go, I believe in that, and I believe that that’s an underlying sentiment in the nation. If you look at the commitment of our troops over this century in that context, then

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remembering them on a specific national day seems to me to be a very important thing to do.
In the event that we do become a republic, we may well want to redefine our national days. I mean people have suggested to me that Anzac Day is probably a more appropriate national day then any other public holiday, whether it be Australia Day or Remembrance Day. Would you agree with that?

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Well, you know I think there is far more to a nation than just the military endeavour. I would be a little concerned if at some future date, you know we had this defined as our national day and everybody then started to say, wait a minute that’s just about war. I think that I’d be concerned about that. I mean, I think Federation is a good day for us to not sacrifice to but to celebrate as our national day.

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Is there anything you want to say that I haven’t asked you? That you would like to contribute to this general …
I’ve probably said enough.
Well I think that’s terrific, I mean you’ve more than answered what I had to ask you but, there’s nothing else for you that you …?
No well I think probably, to conclude myself, you know I think that we are the continental power in our region, I think that that’s our destiny. And I think that there’s some signs that, that’s going to be

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thrust upon us anyway, but our good fortune in being probably the only country in the history of mankind that’s also been a continent and having a liberal democratic and a federated construct puts us in a position of great fortune. But also in a position of great responsibility. And I think that we need to look at our future strategy in that context.
INTERVIEW ENDS

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