Former prime minister Paul Keating says the motives of Australians who show up at Gallipoli each year for Anzac Day ceremonies are misguided.
Speaking at a book launch in Sydney in Thursday, he said Australia’s involvement with the Gallipoli campaign of 1915 was divided by loyalties to the British Empire and a desire for a more independent Australia.
“On the one hand we were out to prove that `the British race in the antipodes had not degenerated’, yet we resented being dragooned into a war which did not threaten our own country or its people,” Keating said.
Given Australian loyalties to England at the time, Keating said it was entirely understandable that Australia troops fought the Turks at Gallipoli, but the experience was shocking.
“Dragged into service by the imperial government in an ill-conceived and poorly-executed campaign, we were cut to ribbons and dispatched,” he said.
He added he was disappointed some Australians still held the view Australia was redeemed at Gallipoli.
“An utter and complete nonsense,” he said.
“Without seeking to simplify the then bonds of the empire and the implicit sense of obligation, or to diminish the bravery of our own men, we still go on as though the nation was born again or even, was redeemed there.”
Keating said he had never visited Gallipoli, and never would.