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Melbourne University student union ANZAC Day merry-go-round

Posted by: Ellen Feely | 23 April, 2012 - 9:57 AM
ANZAC Wreath

A war of words has erupted over Melbourne University student union decision to not spend $200 on a wreath to lay at the ANZAC Day dawn service on Wednesday .

Melbourne University Student Union President Mark Kettle has denied stating that participating in the ANZAC Day service would be ‘glorifying war’, after a former student council member claimed the body had refused to spend $200 on a wreath to lay on Wednesday morning.

Speaking with Neil Mitchell, Charley Daniel, a former member of the student council and member of the Melbourne University Liberal Club said the President, Mark Kettle, would neither allow a discussion nor vote on the matter.

LISTEN: Charley Daniel speaks with Neil Mitchell

But when questioned by Neil Mitchell, Mark Kettle denied the allegations, saying “as chair of the meeting, I largely facilitate debate (and) I don't put forward direct opinions."

Mark Kettle defended the student union’s decision not to partake in the ANZAC Day dawn service, saying they were committed to ensuring students’ funds were spent appropriately.

"We think as the student union that we can best represent the spirit of ANZAC Day by ensuring that the students on this campus have the best education which is the spirit which they fought for," he said.

Mark Kettle said members of his family had served in war, and confirmed he would be attending Wednesday’s dawn service despite claims from fellow student union members that he said he would honour the day by sleeping in.

”I think it's an incredibly important day and I remember this day every single year,” he said.

Charley Daniel said she hoped the move by “left-wing extremists” to not lay the wreath was not representative of the view of all Melbourne University students.

"ANZAC day to me is not about glorifying war or even endorsing conflict, but remembering those who died for us," Charley Daniel said.

Charley Daniel said the student council was dominated by ALP-sympathising and independent elected representatives and had spent around $15,000 to promote themselves in ‘O-Week’, orientation week for new university students.

Charley Daniel said the Liberal Club had decided to “take matters into their own hands” and hold a bake sale to raise money to buy a wreath to lay at the Shrine of Remembrance on ANZAC Day.

During the interview with Mark Kettle, fellow student Michael Sablykak rang in to refute Kettle’s claims that he refused to allow a democratic vote on the motion to buy a wreath, and suggested the matter be raised a student union meeting tomorrow.

Mark Kettle refused to confirm whether he would support a motion in a student meeting tomorrow to buy allow $200 of student union funds to be put towards a wreath.

LISTEN: Melbourne University Student Union President Mark Kettle and student union member Michael Sablykak speak with Neil Mitchell:

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Blog comments Your Say

  • Come one Kettle!

    Stop capitulating and call a spade a spade!

    As a member of Labor Left you don't dig on ANZAC Day!

    You see it as a stupid glorification of war and the military - of an imperial war that achieved nothing!

    A celebration of a failed invasion on Turkish beaches. Of the British Empire thrashing it out against The Austro Hungarian and Ottoman Empires because the world needed a "good old fashioned war".

    A celebration of masculinity and a fledgling nation's baptism by fire. Proof that our boys weren't "chocolate soldiers". Proof that our boys weren't the wild colonials the world had seen during their spell in Cairo.

    Sure many soldiers believed in the cause, and yes our diggers showed a tremendous degree of courage and perseverance, yes so many did sacrifice their lies, and yes they should be remembered.

    But WW1 was a pointless exercise in inhumanity and wholesale slaughter - that's what should be also remembered. That's where the emphasis should be.

    Currently ANZAC Day does not frame the first world war in this way. Its all about "dying for our freedom" not "dying in vain".

    Surely we should place more emphasis on Armistice / Remembrance Day - if the student union doesn't feel comfortable with ANZAC Day - argue your case!!

    "and the young people ask me what are they marching for and i ask myself the same question" - Eric Bogle

    "I believe that the war upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation has now become a war of aggression and conquest" - Siegfried Sassoon (Poet and friend of Wilfred Owen).

    Sassoon Monday 30 April, 2012 - 1:23 AM
  • UNI "UNIONS" THIS IS WHY THE GILLARD? SO CALLED GOVERNMENT "STIMKS" IF THIS IS WHAT THE UNI PROVIDES ??? I HOPE YOU ALL ROT IN HELL.? OH THAT IS TO GOOD FOR THESE CRITONS.

    ian Thursday 26 April, 2012 - 2:54 PM
  • It's like a scene out of "life of Brian". The PFJ.

    Colin Thursday 26 April, 2012 - 12:31 PM
  • Please join my facebook group.
    Never ever forget this guys name, so he never has the chance to bludge on taxpayers in a safe seat chosen for him.

    http://www.facebook.com/groups/410648478952867/

    Steve Harnett Wednesday 25 April, 2012 - 10:39 AM
  • Mark Kettle didn't 'facilitate discussion' today at student council....he and his labor left faction staged a walkout when the issue of ANZAC commemoration was put forward...

    Uni Student Wednesday 25 April, 2012 - 1:18 AM
  • I think all of you are missing the point here - the student union used $15,000 of the students' money promoting a union that all of us are forced to be apart of. The "womyns" room also spent thousands (of students money) on a mural for their room - this room will see maybe 50 Uni students go through it this year --> now that's a waste!
    Considering this, it is clear to me that Mr Moisidis' comment about the student union being out of touch with the student body's wishes is true!
    I come from a big millitary family and now I pay over $200 in fees for this union and out of all the events that the union puts on, an ANZAC wreath is mostly where I would like my money spent.

    It was Mr Kettle who turned this into a "political issue", not the liberal club - I'm sure if any other union club asked for $200 to lay a wreath Mr Kettle would be all over it.

    And just finish up by addressing Mr Kettle's last point about no other union etc have ever donated a wreath - every year sees a new "breed" of students come through the Uni; you can't seriously tell me that with new students doesn't come new opinions? Quite clearly what Mr Kettle is talking about is an outdated view of student opinions.

    Disgusted UniMelb Student Tuesday 24 April, 2012 - 11:22 AM

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