The commemoration industry and the militarization of Australian history

A speech given the Middle Park Men’s Group November 24 2021

Let me say at the outset that I have profound respect for almost everyone who serves in the military.

But what concerns me is the way Australia has developed a commemoration industry unparalleled anywhere outside the US and Russia.

What also concerns me is that vast amounts are being spent on commemoration at a time when many veterans are not getting the compassion and assistance they should. read more

Eulogising a good friend

The following is the eulogy the blog delivered a year ago for his friend Don Macfarlane. It joined other eulogies by family, friends and colleagues and representatives of organisations he had generously helped.

I had lunch with Don on May 27.

On that Friday Don had just come from a meeting with a professor who was giving him advice about the next stages. The advice – focus on one thing. When I asked Don what his one thing would be his answer was – of course – painting. read more

How the Whittaker memorial events started

Speech to the annual Port Melbourne 1928 Dock Strike memorial event October 28 2016

Some years ago the former Port Melbourne Mayor, Perce White called me to talk about Alan Whittaker and the 1928 Dock Strike

He reminded me of an article I had written in the local paper, The Record, most of which I actually wrote every week as well as subbing my own copy and laying out the pages. The article was about Port’s maritime workers and in particular the 1928 dock strike. read more

Writers’ Victoria Patrons Celebration

Friday 13 November 2015

In gathering here tonight to thank people who have contributed to Writers’ Victoria it would be remiss not to mention a poet, critic, contributor to education and also an important figure in the history of this organisation. The person is Chris Wallace-Crabbe who just been awarded the Melbourne Prize for Literature. read more

Why do an RMIT Media and Communication Masters?

Presentation to prospective Masters students Tuesday 19 October

Graeme Simsion; Harold Mitchell; Robert Thompson; Alisa Bowen; Brendan McClements; Brad Haylock; Simon Rose. Do any of you know any of these people?

Graeme Simsion is, of course, the best selling author of the Rosie Project and the Rosie Effect – the first of which won the 2012 Victorian Premier’s Award prize for an unpublished novel. He has subsequently sold the film rights and is working on the script. read more


Australian Association of Social Marketing Symposium 6 October 2015

Today’s talk is really about the mismatch between what social marketers know and what the people who commission and fund social marketing campaigns think they know.

May I start off with some provisos:

First, I am not going to use PowerPoint as I am a great fan of Edward R. Tufte and urge everyone making presentations to read his Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching out Corrupts Within. Tufte for those of you who are not familiar with him has been described as the Leonardo da Vinci of data. read more

Piers Festival Whittaker Walk


Each Anzac Day and Remembrance Day we say the words We Will Remember them and Lest We Forget.

I like to think when I walk past this Cenotaph and the Port Melbourne Piers that what we remember – and what we should never forget – was what those who fought and died believed and what they fought for back in Australia. read more

Rebuilding trust after regulatory disasters

IPAA/ANZSOG Presentation 30 October 2014

The fundamental truth about picking up the pieces after a disaster is that it is largely determined by how you plan for disaster.

But first, to put that in perspective, are regulatory agencies different when it comes to crises? It’s a good question at the heart of questions about rebuilding trust after a regulatory disaster. Do the standard best practices for handling crises actually apply easily to regulatory agencies which can be considered unlike other organisations? Does widespread social media use invalidate much of those standard best practices anyway? I’m not planning to try to resolve these issues now but will ask you to think about them in the next half an hour or so. read more

Whittaker Memorial address 2 November 2014

Speech to the Whittaker Memorial function Princes Pier 86th anniversary of the shooting of Allan Whittaker

Professor Bruce Scates is very distinguished historian who would have liked to be here today.

But he did send us a message which says: “It would have been an honour to speak at the wharf. Unfortunately, I will be in Albany for the opening of the Anzac Interpretative Centre.  I’m pleased to add that the first 50 of the 100 stories will be showcased there – Alan Whittaker amongst them.  We will also be placing the story at the centre of a MOOC (a free online university course open to all) which we hope will have a global audience. We live quite close to ‘Princes Pier’ – the sooner the name is changed, the better!!” read more