June 6, 2014: President Barack Obama Speaks At Normandy On The 70th Anniversary Of D-Day

President Barack Obama and other world leaders have gathered at Normandy in France to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

Like the 75th anniversary of Gallipoli in 1990, this is likely to be the last time that survivors of the largest sea-borne invasion in history will gather to remember the historic turning point that led to the defeat of Hitler and the end of the war in Europe.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is attending the commemoration.

United States President Barack Obama addressed the morning ceremony: “By daybreak, blood soaked the water, and bombs broke the sky. Thousands of paratroopers had dropped into the wrong landing sites; thousands of rounds bit into flesh and sand. Entire companies’ worth of men fell in minutes. … By the end of that longest day, this beach had been fought, lost, refought and won — a piece of Europe once again liberated and free. …”

  • Listen to Obama (25m – transcript below)

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  • Watch Obama (25m)

Front page of The Age, June 7, 1944.

Age

Transcript of President Barack Obama’s speech at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial at Omaha Beach, Normandy, France, on the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

President Hollande; to the people of France; friends; the family; our veterans:

If prayer were made of sound, the skies over England that night would have deafened the world.

Captains paced their decks. Pilots tapped their gauges. Commanders pored over maps, fully aware that for all the months of meticulous planning, everything could go wrong — the winds, the tides, the element of surprise — and above all, the audacious bet that what waited on the other side of the Channel would compel men not to shrink away, but to charge ahead. [Read more...]


Labor MPs And Malcolm Turnbull Pay Tribute To Neville Wran

Members of Parliament have paid tribute to Neville Wran, the former Premier of New South Wales, who died last month.

Following yesterday’s condolence motion in the House of Representatives, 8 Labor MPs and the Liberal Party’s Malcolm Turnbull spoke about Wran in the Federation Chamber.

  • Watch Malcolm Turnbull (20m – transcript below)

Hansard transcript of remarks by Malcolm Turnbull, Liberal member for Wentworth, in the Federation Chamber.

Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth—Minister for Communications) (10:28): Neville Wran was my best friend. I certainly never had a better friend than Neville. I was in business with him for over a decade and we spent pretty much every working day together for well over a decade. He always used to say that he knew me before I knew him because he was a university friend of my mother’s. He would regularly assert that he knew me when I was still en ventre ma mere, a legal term he was very fond of. I got to know him when we were two adults, although I was only barely an adult, when I was a young journalist in the press gallery in New South Wales starting in 1975 when Neville was the opposition leader. He was clearly the coming man. He had an urbanity, a wit and eloquence that had no parallel on either side of the house. [Read more...]


Lem Johns, LBJ Bodyguard, Dies; Witness To JFK Assassination, Spattered With Paint In Australia

Lem Johns, the United States Secret Service agent who was spattered with paint during President Lyndon Johnson’s visit to Australia in 1966, has died, at the age of 88.

Johns, with his right hand raised, can be seen in the picture below on the right hand side of Johnson’s limousine. The incident occurred during a demonstration in Melbourne.

LBJ

Johnson’s visit in October 1966 came just one month before the federal election of November 26. The election was conducted amidst vigorous public debate about Australia’s commitment of conscripted troops to the war in Vietnam. [Read more...]


Paul Keating Turns 70

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating turns 70 today.

Keating was 25 when he entered the House of Representatives as the Labor member for Blaxland in October 1969. He was 47 when he became Australia’s 24th prime minister in December 1991. He remained PM until March 1996 when he was defeated by John Howard’s coalition.

Keating

Keating’s first ministerial appointment came in the dying days of the Whitlam government. Following the sacking of Minerals and Energy minister Rex Connor, Keating became Minister for Northern Australia on October 21, 1975, serving for three weeks until the government was dismissed by the Governor-General on November 11. He is the youngest of the eleven surviving ministers of the Whitlam governments. [Read more...]


2013 And The Years Of Three Prime Ministers

This morning on ABC News Breakfast, a former newspaper editor told viewers that in 2013 Australia had three prime ministers “for only the second time in history”.

In the interests of accuracy, and because this is not the first time I’ve heard someone get it wrong this year, here are the figures.

The Years of Three Prime Ministers

There have been 5 years in the history of the Australian federation when three prime ministers were separately sworn into the position. They are: 1904, 1939, 1941, 1945 and 2013.

The Years of Three Prime Ministers
Year First PM Second PM Third PM
1904
Alfred Deakin
Protectionist
defeated in House
John “Chris” Watson
ALP
defeated in House
George Reid
Free Trade
1939
Joseph Lyons
United Australia Party
died
Earle Page
Country Party
relinquished to new leader
Robert Menzies
United Australia Party
1941
Robert Menzies
United Australia Party
resigned leadership
Arthur Fadden
Country Party
defeated in House
John Curtin
ALP
1945
John Curtin
ALP
died
Frank Forde
ALP
relinquished to new leader
Ben Chifley
ALP
2013
Julia Gillard
ALP
deposed by party
Kevin Rudd
ALP
defeated at general election
Tony Abbott
Liberal Party

 

1904 – The System Works

The prime ministerial changes of 1904 are notable because it was the first time government changed hands as a result of legislative difficulties in the House of Representatives. Parliamentary manoeuvres were central to each change of government, as was the role of the Governor-General in refusing requests for a dissolution of the House. [Read more...]


That’s It, You’re Out: Disorderly Conduct In The House Of Representatives

The 43rd Parliament was the most disorderly in the history of the Australian Parliament, according to statistics compiled by the Parliamentary Library.

A research paper written by Rob Lundie and published today by the Parliamentary Library shows that 27.4% of the 1,093 members of the House of Representatives between 1901 and the end of the 43rd Parliament in August were named and/or suspended or ‘sin binned’ for disorderly conduct.

There were 1,352 instances of disorderly behaviour identified in the official Hansard record of parliamentary proceedings. The paper uses four criteria for measuring disorderly behaviour:

  1. number of disciplinary actions
  2. number of sitting weeks in which a member was disciplined
  3. number of days when four or more members were disciplined
  4. number of different members disciplined

On this basis, the two parliaments of the Rudd and Gillard governments (42nd & 43rd) were more disorderly than the four parliaments of the Howard governments (38th, 39th, 40th & 41st). But these six parliaments since 1996 have been the most disorderly since 1901. [Read more...]


At America’s Cup 30th Anniversary, Bob Hawke Tells A Joke

Today is the 30th anniversary of Australia’s victory over the United States in the America’s Cup yacht race.

Bob Hawke had been prime minister for six months when Australia II, skippered by John Bertrand, defeated Liberty, skippered by Dennis Conner. Australia II was designed by Ben Lexcen with a revolutionary and controversial ‘winged keel’. Representing the Royal Perth Yacht Club, Australia II was funded by businessman Alan Bond.

Australia II’s victory was the first time in 132 years that the Americans had been defeated.

Even though few Australians knew much about the race, it captured the public imagination at the time. On the day of victory, Bob Hawke appeared on morning television wearing a specially made jacket. His appearance is remembered for his declaration: “Any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum.”

  • Watch Hawke’s 1983 America’s Cup appearance:

At an event to celebrate the 30th anniversary today, Bob Hawke appeared with Bertrand and Bond and told a joke that he said captures the “irreverence” of Australians:

  • Watch Bob Hawke’s 2013 joke: