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Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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100th anniversary of the Parliament's Bible

On 12 September 1919, Governor-General Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson presented to the Commonwealth Parliament a Bible and lectern on behalf of the Victorian branch of the British and Foreign Bible Society. The 100th anniversary of this occasion falls on 12 September 2019.  Read more...

Australia’s first federal election–29 and 30 March 1901
State Library of Queensland

Australia’s first federal election–29 and 30 March 1901

With speculation firming on May 11 as ‘the most likely date for a 2019 federal election’ it seems timely to mark the anniversary this week of Australia’s first federal election. Prime Minister Edmund Barton, who had been commissioned by Governor-General Lord Hopetoun to form an interim Government on 1 January 1901, opened the federal campaign with a speech at the West Maitland Town Hall, declaring: Ransack history, and you will find this is the first time in which it has been committed to one body of men to undertake … the government of a whole continent. ….. We shall in our electoral campaign have to deal with a whole continent, … and we shall have to... Read more...

A short history of Australia Day, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander reactions to it

There has been recent and recurring public debate about the significance of Australia Day and its meaning to Indigenous Australians. This FlagPost gives a short history of both the day and of Indigenous reactions to and opinions about it. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this blog contains names and contains links to images, voices or names of deceased persons in photographs, film, audio recordings or printed material. It quotes and links to historical figures' views that contain terms that would not be considered appropriate today.  Read more...

The Life Assurance Companies Act 1905: the first private members’ bill to pass the Parliament

On 7 December 2017, the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedom) Bill 2017 became only the 29th private senators’ or members’ bill to be passed into law by the Federal Parliament. (Issues surrounding the passage of such bills are covered in a recent Library FlagPost, together with a list of the previous 28 private members’ or senators’ bills to have been enacted.) Read more...

100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba

The thirty-first of October 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba during the First World War. On this day in 1917, the cavalry charge of the Australian 4th Light Horse Brigade broke through Turkish defences to capture the town of Beersheba. This was of great strategic importance as it cleared the way for the British to advance on Gaza, which they had failed to capture on two previous occasions during 1917. Read more...

100th anniversary of the Battle of Polygon Wood

Today—26 September 2017—is the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Polygon Wood, which took place in Belgium. This battle was part of the wider ‘Third Battle of Ypres’ campaign on the Western Front, which occurred from July to November 1917. In his official account of the war, historian Charles Bean recorded that 5,744 Australians were killed during the Battle of Polygon Wood, in which Allied forces reportedly captured less than four square miles of ground. Five of the Australian contingent who served at Polygon Wood went on to become federal parliamentarians: Charles Brand, Harold ‘Pompey’ Elliot, John McCallum, William Spoone... Read more...

An interpretive centre to commemorate Australia's war on the Western Front

In May 2015 the Parliamentary Library highlighted in its Budget Review 2015–16 plans by the Australian Government to build an interpretive centre adjoining the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux in France at a cost of more than $100 million. On 13 August 2015, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works issued its report regarding the proposed ‘Sir John Monash Centre’ (SJMC). Following the release of this report and evidence provided at a public hearing on 26 June, further details are now available. Read more...

Parliamentary Library Lecture—Aboriginals in the First Australian Imperial Force, a secret history

On 28 May, the Parliamentary Library hosted a public lecture by Gary Oakley, the Indigenous Liaison Officer at the Australian War Memorial. Mr Oakley’s ongoing research into Aboriginal service during the First World War painted an absorbing picture of the experiences of Aboriginals serving in the First Australian Imperial Force (1st AIF) as well as dispelling a number of preconceptions.    Read more...

The 70th anniversary of the Second World War events of 1942— ‘Australia’s perilous year’: April to December

On 19 February 2012, the 70th anniversary of the first bombing of Darwin, Prime Minister Julia Gillard described 1942 as ‘the darkest year in Australia’s history’. Throughout 2012, 70th anniversary commemorations will be held for some of the most crucial events in Australian military history. Following on from a previous post noting some of the important 70th anniversaries occurring in February and March, this post highlights important anniversaries from April to December 2012. Details of special 70th anniversary commemorative events are included where they are known, but all the incidents discussed below are commemorated in some way every year.     April–May The sinking of HMAS Vampire (9 ... Read more...

The 70th anniversary of the Second World War events of 1942— ‘Australia’s perilous year’: February and March

'For there can be no doubt that 1942 was for Australia—as a nation and as a people—the most important single year of all those two hundred [since White settlement]. It was the turning point in the making of modern Australia. In the fire of that tremendous crisis were forged all the elements which have shaped our national life and destiny, to this day....Above all, 1942 was the year in which Australians first achieved a genuine sense of national identity and national unity.'This is how Prime Minister Bob Hawke described the historical significance of 1942 for Australia in the Forward to a special 1988 edition of the Defence Force Journal entitled ‘Australia’s perilous year’.Throughout 201... Read more...

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