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Coral Sea mythology: Malcolm Turnbull's fictions

By Binoy Kampmark - posted Thursday, 11 May 2017


The focus, rather, was isolating, not invading Australia. Such points were recapitulated in Stanley's Invading Australia: Japan and the battle for Australia (2008), building on the notion that Prime Minister Curtin had been essentially in the business of scaring, not reassuring, the Australian public.

By April 1942, a point that Turnbull actually misrepresents to his unwary Townsville audience, the broken Japanese codes revealed that Tokyo had little intention of seizing the continent. Curtin, wishing to keep the levels of fear to their suitable, motivating levels, preferred to keep matters quiet as the battles continued to rage. The Curtin in Wurth's account goes even further, coming across as paranoid and incapable of trusting the intelligence dolled up to him.

Australian vulnerability remains a matter of necessary symbolism rather than cold steel fact. It seems to have found expression in the DNA of every Australian prime minister since Curtin, the gruel of consumption each leader needs as he or she assumes power. Never entirely self-assured, Australian leaders have either leaned on Britain with childish irritability or the United States with a victim's insensibility, desperately fearing negation on the chessboard of geopolitics.

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Clinging with desperation to the coattails of a great power has also made Australian politicians disgraceful before their mighty patrons, idiotically smiling, as Turnbull did before Donald Trump, in their abode of power. Such figures are not so much guests as tolerable vassals, required to do the fighting and the dying when the United States demands succour in the grand game of empire.

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About the Author

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He currently lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne and blogs at Oz Moses.

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