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by Don Franks

The opening of the Australian memorial at Pukeahu took place today. Several Wellington activists attended the event.

We marched up from Trades Hall with banners and a loud hailer to make sure Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot was suitably greeted.

At the parade ground we passed rows of seated dignitaries. One of them stood up and glanced around, it was Labour Party leader Andrew Little. A reminder that Labour offers no alternative. Police and army officers homed in, warning us not to disrupt the ceremony.

As it happened, there was several minutes wait before any ceremony took place. The official party sat silent in their chairs. Bayonets fixed, the soldiers stood silent in their ranks.

Peace Action member Valerie Morse shattered the silence with our megaphone.

“Peace Action Wellington will not remain silent while genocide against Aboriginal Australians is being committed. We will not be silent while hundreds of refugees are tortured in Australian concentration camps.

“While speaking about honouring those who died in previous wars, Abbott and Key are committing more troops to fight yet another war for Western dominance in the Middle East.”

Once more we were told by cops not to disrupt proceedings.

Before leaving, we shouted “warmonger, warmonger, out out out” as Abbott and Key walked past us before inspecting the guard.  Key stared ahead grimly as he passed.

Key’s official speech continued his favourite theme of “mateship”, as though New Zealand and Australia were two blokey buddies rather than capitalist states. Key said it was right that “our closest friend” was first to set up a memorial at the Pukeahu Memorial.

“We like to take the mickey out of each other and we are fierce rivals on the sports field but when it comes to the crunch, we’ve got each other’s backs.”

Abbott cut to the chase, making several pointed comparisons between the old Anzac campaign in Turkey and the joint deployment to Iraq which should be established in Camp Taji near Baghdad by the end of May.

“It is a remarkable thing to look back 100 years to that terrible baptism of fire that our two countries had on the Gallipoli peninsula on the 25th of April, 1915,” the Australian PM said.

“I think it is quite fitting that 100 years on, Australians and New Zealanders are again working for our values and our interests together in Iraq.”

Australia is sending 330 Defence Force personnel and New Zealand 143 to support a two-year training mission at Camp Taji, 30km north of Baghdad.

The “values and interests” of Abbott and Key are the predatory interests of imperialism. The best interests of Iraqi, Australian and New Zealand working people will be served by building up more international solidarity action, to the point where the guns can be finally silenced.

For our Anzac-related articles, see here.

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