23 April 2024

Barnaby's gripe over public servants and Anzac Day is so last year

| Chris Johnson
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Anzac Day fundraising remains a concern for RSL sub-branch members in South East NSW. Photo: Patricia Woods Flickr

While Anzac Day is a solemn day for many, others object to being made to have a day off for it. Photo: Patricia Woods Flickr.

Anzac Day must be close – time for Barnaby to take another swipe at the public service.

He did it last year and he’s done it again this year.

Barnaby Joyce, former deputy prime minister, former leader of the Nationals and current shadow minister for veterans’ affairs, wants the government to force all employees of the Australian Public Service (except those in emergency service roles) to take the day off this coming Thursday, 25 April.

He wants the Labor Federal Government led by Anthony Albanese to insist that its workforce commemorates the day with leave because the Coalition government led by Scott Morrison that Barnaby was a part of did that, too.

Before the last federal election, the Liberal-Nationals government moved to ensure public servants couldn’t swap the day.

Labor, once in office, reverted to the way it had previously been (ie, public servants could seek approval from their managers to substitute the holiday for another day off).

While most public servants will take a public holiday on Thursday – and most likely a day’s annual leave on Friday to make it a four-day weekend – there are some who object to it.

READ ALSO Barnaby raises the Anzac Day and public servants chestnut again

Some see it as glorifying war and don’t feel comfortable honouring the day.

As dubious as that reasoning might seem, if there are conscientious objectors, they should not be dismissed outright.

It’s the same for public holidays that mark Australia Day and the King’s Birthday.

If personal convictions move someone to ask their manager for an alternative day off in lieu of Anzac Day (or the other two public holidays), and if that can be accommodated within their respective agencies, then what skin is it off Barnaby’s nose?

He places Anzac Day in a category all of its own and insists that those on the government payroll must honour it.

“Initially, it had been assumed the Federal Government accidentally included Anzac Day when it made the same policy for other public holidays such as Australia Day and the King’s Birthday,” he said in a recent statement.

“But the policy stands even after it was pointed out in parliament. So, it wasn’t an accident.”

It’s pretty clear it wasn’t an accident. That was pretty clear last year as well.

But Barnaby has seized the opportunity for some relevance-boosting commentary and has rehashed the same feigned outrage he conjured up last year.

But the truly wonderful thing about democracy in this country is that freedom of choice and personal decisions matter.

READ ALSO Woolies boss threatened with jail over contempt of the Senate

For some, Anzac Day is a solemn day to remember the fallen, the survivors and the bravery of war while also noting the futility of it.

For others, it’s an opportunity to escape to the beach.

For many, it’s both.

And for a massive portion of the population (at least in Canberra), it’s simply the point on the calendar that allows them to turn on their home heaters without feeling any guilt.

So when Barnaby tries to describe the decision as a government snub to Australia’s veterans, he’s drawing a long bow.

“This is another example of how veterans and their families are feeling the loss of their voice in Cabinet,” he said.

“Until Mr Albanese took office, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs sat at the Cabinet table. But not under Labor.”

Only he knows whether his bigger gripe is about a few public servants not observing Anzac Day or about his portfolio not being mirrored in Cabinet.

But the whole whinge seems petty.

The nation moved on from this argument last year. But not Barnaby.

His convictions over Anzac Day, along with those of many Australians, are valid.

But so, too, are the convictions of the minority who choose not to commemorate the day – even if they are public servants.

Original Article published by Chris Johnson on Riotact.

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