Yassmin Abdel – Magied ANZAC controversy: Nauru and Manus debate to be had but not on ANZAC Day

ANZAC Day is a sacred day in Australia and New Zealand to commemorate soldiers who have fought, died and have come back forever changed.  Image: Craig Dingle, iStock



ABC presenter, Yassmin Abdel – Magied came under fire for Facebook post linking ANZAC Day to Nauru, Manus and conflicts in the Middle East. She has received heavy criticism from a number of journalists.

Rita Panahi has slammed the comment as “spectacularly stupid” and “offensive”, but argues that she shouldn’t be sacked just for the comments. Yet, Panahi, has pointed out a lack of consequences for Abdel – Magied and compared it to the sacking of Natasha Exelby after she was caught not paying attention on the job. It was only after protests that the ABC backtracked their decision and reinstated Exelby.

Should Abdel – Magied be sacked? I’m with Panahi on this one. My answer is no. And to be honest, I think a debate can be had over the West’s involvement in the Middle East and offshore processing (which, if I’m honest I’m not a big fan of).

But yesterday was not the day. Yesterday was meant to be about commemorating past and current serving men and women from World War I onward and the price that they paid. I also think it’s about also remembering those who survived the conflicts, but were forever changed – those who suffered PTSD and other mental disorders due to what they’ve witnessed and those currently serving in conflicts.

I think it’s also about remembering the families of those who are left behind: husbands, wives, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters. Because, while they may not be in the front line, their lives will also change forever.

It’s also about remembering the nurses and doctors who helped the injured and traumatised. They too, would have been forever changed – seeing the devastation, death and not to mention the health risks they themselves faced, such as dysentery and other airborne diseases.


That’s what I believe we should have remembered yesterday. This is what it’s about. To over – politicise the day brings a great disservice to all those who fought, struggled, suffered and died while defending the values that Australia is so well – known for – mate-ship, democracy, freedom to live in peace and free from tyranny.


Like Australia Day, I also think it’s important to acknowledge how far Australia has come: the inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen and women in ANZAC Day marches, inclusion in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the proper recognition for those who fought in the Vietnam War should all be recognised. Like many other parts of Australia’s history and culture, we are making progress. Not perfect, but in progress. Leave contentious political issues (again, worth debate) for another day.

For those in Australia, what does ANZAC Day mean to you?