“War” on Cut and Paste?

Surely when a Parliamentary Secretary for Veterans Affairs, with a long record of military service, is called to speak on commemorative occasions, he could be relied on to string together a few suitable words of his own? Apparently not.

Over the past few years, Liberal Member of the Legislative Council, Charlie Lynn, has plagiarised articles and websites in making a series of Parliamentary speeches to mark significant military occasions and tributes. While he’s not alone in adopting these lax standards, the scale in conjunction with the nature of his responsibilities as a Parliamentary Secretary, are of concern.

In yesterday’s Sun Herald, NSW Labor MLC Lynda Voltz got pinged by a Parliamentary colleague for cutting and posting Wikipedia material on contract law into a speech. Thinking such practices are habit forming, I examined a few of her other Parliamentary contributions. Sure enough, Voltz has form.

In a September 2010 debate on the World War I Battle of Fromelles, she plagiarised an article on the Australian Army website on unrecovered war casualties.

Voltz:

The battle for Fromelles began 19 days after the opening of the Battle of the Somme. The purpose of the Battle of Fromelles was to prevent the Germans from redeploying their forces from areas of the front not heavily engaged in war and bringing them over to reinforce the Somme front, which was 80 kilometres to the south.

Army

The Battle for Fromelles began 19 days after the opening of the Somme Campaign. Fromelles was designed to prevent the Germans thinning out their forces from areas of the Front not heavily engaged, to redeploy them to reinforce the Somme front 80km to the south.

Voltz:

Soon after, the line returned to the same state it was in before the attack. Wounded were left lying on the battlefield for days while attempts were made to arrange a ceasefire to enable their collection. The high death rate among Australians can be attributed in part to the failure to arrange such a truce

Army:

Soon after, the line returned to the same state it was in before the attack. [..] Wounded were left lying on the battlefield over the next few days while attempts to arrange a truce for their retrieval. The high death rate among the Australians can be partly attributed to the delays in arranging a truce to collect the wounded.

However, it was a speech for Remembrance Day 2011, that has exposed the more worrying pattern of plagiarism – this time, not her own. There was material in the Voltz speech that also featured in an speech by her Liberal colleague in the Legislative Council, Charlie Lynn, given a year earlier on Remembrance Day 2010.

But both Lynn and Voltz appear to have drawn on an article, “First World War 1914-1918”, on the Australian War Memorial website, which gives a brief overview of the war.

Lynn’s 2010 speech went on to make more use of the War Memorial material.

Lynn:

Australian women volunteered for service in auxiliary roles as cooks, nurses, drivers, interpreters, munitions workers and skilled farm workers. Whilst the Government welcomed the service of nurses, it generally rejected offers from women in other professions to serve overseas. Australian nurses served in Egypt, France, Greece and India, often in trying conditions or close to the Front where they were exposed to shelling and aerial bombardment. The effects of the war were felt at home. Families and communities grieved as we lost a generation of our finest young men. It was a devastating blow for such a young and isolated nation. Our women had to increasingly assume the physical and financial burden of caring for their families. Our involvement in the Great War, the war to end all wars, caused strong divisions in our society. This reached a climax in the bitterly contested and unsuccessful conscription referendums held in 1916 and 1917. When the war ended, thousands of ex-servicemen, many disabled with physical or emotional wounds, had to be reintegrated into a society that was keen to consign the war to the past and to resume normal life

Australian War Memorial:

Australian women volunteered for service in auxiliary roles, as cooks, nurses, drivers, interpreters, munitions workers, and skilled farm workers. While the government welcomed the service of nurses, it generally rejected offers from women in other professions to serve overseas. Australian nurses served in Egypt, France, Greece, and India, often in trying conditions or close to the front, where they were exposed to shelling and aerial bombardment.

The effect of the war was also felt at home. Families and communities grieved following the loss of so many men, and women increasingly assumed the physical and financial burden of caring for families. Anti-German feeling emerged with the outbreak of the war, and many Germans living in Australia were sent to internment camps. Censorship and surveillance, regarded by many as an excuse to silence political views that had no effect on the outcome of war, increased as the conflict continued. Social division also grew, reaching a climax in the bitterly contested (and unsuccessful) conscription referendums held in 1916 and 1917. When the war ended, thousands of ex-servicemen, many disabled with physical or emotional wounds, had to be re-integrated into a society keen to consign the war to the past and resume normal life.

A Vietnam veteran and noted for his Kokoda Trail ventures, Lynn was appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Veterans Affairs after the election of the Coalition Government in March 2011. While the role of a Parliamentary Secretary lacks clear definition, Premier Barry O’Farrell has said:

Parliamentary Secretaries perform an important role in meeting with stakeholders and members of the public, representing Ministers at public events and helping to formulate Government policy

With Veterans Affairs (contained within the overall Education and Communities portfolio, and responsible to the Minister for Citizenship and Communities) one would anticipate responsibility for military commemorative and ceremonial events that do not occasion the involvement of the Minister, where speeches appropriate to the circumstances are warranted.

In recent years, both prior to and following his appointment as Parliamentary Secretary, Lynn has made a notable number of speeches commemorating battles, veterans and military occasions. Most of these speeches have drawn largely and extensively on a single source on each occasion, without attribution or acknowledgement to its author or publisher.

(In each instance set out here, the plagiarism is not confined to the examples cited. The speeches tend to adopt most of the content from the article in question. The occasional minor change in styles or emphasis is most likely the result of light editing from Hansard  – something they would not have done had they been treating it as quoted or sourced material).

Tribute to John “Spud” Murphy (15 September 2011)

In an adjournment speech to mark the passing of an attendant at Sydney’s Cenotaph, Lynn adopted virtually all of an obituary penned by Chris Perrin, Custodian of the Cenotaph, and published in the Southern Courier on 9 August 2011:

Lynn:

Spud was born in 1940 and raised in Maroubra. He was made a life member of the Waverley District Baseball Club for his services as a player and administrator after several decades of loyal service to his beloved sport. However, it was Spud’s strong ties with the Boy Scout movement from his days as an eight-year-old with the Coogee cub pack that saw him rise through the ranks over the next 40 years. Spud was instrumental in the scout movement and commenced scout duties at the Cenotaph back in the early 1980s with his long-term mate and former Rover Scout Commissioner, Wall Scott-Smith. They were both instrumental in setting up the Scout Cenotaph Guard in those early years and both served on the Dawn Service Trust Committee.

Perrin:

Born in 1940 and raised in Maroubra, Spud was made a Life Member of the Waverly District Baseball Club for his services as a player and administrator after several decades of loyal service to his beloved sport. However it was his strong ties with the Boy Scout movement from his days as an eight year old with the Coogee Cub pack that saw him rise up through their ranks over the next 40 years. Spud was instrumental in the Scout movement and commenced Scout duties at the Cenotaph back in the early eighties with his long term mate and former Rover Scout Commissioner, Wal Scott-Smith. They were both instrumental in setting up the Scout Cenotaph Guard in these early years and both serve on the Dawn Service Trust Committee.

Tribute to Nancy Wake (26 August 2011)

On the condolence motion for the Australian heroine of the Resistance, Lynn relied on a 1949 Sydney Morning Herald article (easily obtained from the National Library’s “Trove” service), written on the occasion of Wake’s entry into Australian politics:

Lynn:

So at the age of 36 Mrs Nancy Wake, George Medal, Croix de Guerre with Palms, Croix de Guerre with Star, Medaille de la Resistance, and Medal of Freedom with Bronze Palm, stood for Liberal Party preselection to contest Dr Evatt’s seat of Barton.

Sydney Morning Herald, 30 March 1949

So at 36, Mrs Nancy Wake (she is a war widow, but has reverted to her maiden name by deed poll).George Medal, Croix de Guerre with Palms, Croix de Guerre with Star, Medaille de la Resistance, Medal of Freedom with Bronze Palm, is standing for Liberal Party pre-selection on Thursday night to contest Dr. H. V. Evatt’s seat of Barton.

Lynn:

Ensign Wake told the intelligence authorities that rescue work had grown too monotonous and asked to be trained as a saboteur and went forthwith into a sabotage training camp. In a four-month course, she learnt a great deal about explosives, how to handle guns and how to kill men silently, with her bare hands. “I only put silent killing into practice once” replied Nancy to the obvious question. She explained:

On my first mission, when a group of us were trying to blow up part of a factory, I must have made a noise because a sentry turned and saw me. I stepped up to him and broke his neck. I was glad to find that method worked out all right.

SMH:

Quite seriously (and she means it to this day) Ensign Wake told the Intelligence authorities rescue work had grown too monotonous. She asked to be trained as a saboteur, and went forthwith into a sabotage training camp.

In a four months’ course she learned a great deal about explosives, how to handle guns, and how to kill men silently, bare-handed.

“I only put silent killing into practice once,” replied Mrs. Wake to the obvious question. “On my first mission when a group of us were about to blow up part of a factory I must have made a noise because a sentry turned and saw me. I stepped up to him and broke his neck. I was glad to find the method worked all right.”

Battle of Crete Seventieth Anniversary (6 May 2011)

On this occasion, Lynn helped himself to an article written by Brad Manera, on the Australian War Memorial website:

Lynn:

For 10 days Student’s paratroops and the elite mountain troops that were sent to reinforce them hunted, and were hunted by, the Australian, New Zealand, British and Greek soldiers, as well as Cretan farmers, townspeople and police. Fighting was savage and bloody, with little quarter given or asked for. Men fought to the death in solitary duels or major engagements; their bodies cluttered the narrow streets of the towns or lay among the olive trees and creek beds of the countryside. Forty years later, Ted Randolph of the 2/7th Field Ambulance remembered, “A sickly, sweet smell drifted through the area getting stronger until one could taste it in the mouth. The smell was of the dead. I can still taste it. Once it is with you, you never forget it.”

Manera:

These “little dolls” – German paratroopers of General Kurt Student’s XI Air Corps – were highly trained and motivated. For ten days they, and the elite mountain troops that were sent to reinforce them, hunted and were hunted by the Australian, New Zealand, British, and Greek soldiers, as well as Cretan farmers, townspeople, and police. Fighting was savage and bloody, with little quarter given or asked for. Men fought to the death in solitary duels or major engagements; their bodies cluttered the narrow streets of the towns or lay among the olive trees and creek beds of the countryside. Forty years later, Ted Randolf of the 2/7th Field Ambulance remembered: “A sickly, sweet smell drifted through the area getting stronger until one could taste it in the mouth. The smell was of the dead. I can still taste it. Once it is with you, you never forget it!”

Battle of Fromelles (23 September 2010)

Lynn’s contribution to the September 2010 debate on the Battle of Fromelles (the occasion for which Voltz lifted her material from the Army website) was lifted from a Ross McMullin article for the Australian War Memorial’s “Wartime” Magazine.

Lynn:

The Battle of Fromelles took place from 19 July 1916 to 20 July 1916. The worst 24 hours in Australian history occurred at Fromelles—not the worst 24 hours in Australian military history, but the worst 24 hours in Australia’s entire history. The Australians suffered 5,533 casualties in one night. The Australian toll at Fromelles was equivalent to the total number of Australian casualties in the Boer War, the Korean War and the Vietnam War put together. It was a staggering disaster.

McMullin:

The worst 24 hours in Australian history occurred 90 years ago at Fromelles. Not the worst in Australian military history, the worst 24 hours in Australia’s entire history. The Australians suffered 5,533 casualties in one night. The Australian toll at Fromelles was equivalent to the total Australian casualties in the Boer War, Korean War and Vietnam War put together. It was a staggering disaster.

Lynn:

The ghastliness of Fromelles seared Elliott’s soul. More than 1,800 officers and men in the 15th Brigade obeyed orders, did their best, and became casualties in a catastrophe that Elliott had predicted and tried to prevent. And it was quality as well as quantity. Among the officers killed was Major Tom Elliott—no relation of his—a Duntroon graduate of such outstanding promise that Pompey Elliott had tried, unsuccessfully, to keep him out of the battle because he regarded him as a potential Australian Kitchener.

McMullin:

The ghastliness of Fromelles seared Elliott’s soul. More than 1,800 officers and men in the 15th Brigade obeyed orders, did their best, and became casualties in a catastrophe that Elliott had predicted and tried to prevent. And it was quality as well as quantity: among the officers killed was Major Tom Elliott (no relation), a Duntroon graduate of such outstanding promise that Pompey Elliott had tried – unsuccessfully – to keep him out of the battle because he regarded him as a potential “Australian Kitchener”.

National Service Sixtieth Anniversary (10 August 2011)

On an adjournment speech to mark the sixtieth anniversary of National Service in 2011, Lynn’s material relates a brief history of National Service by A E Callaghan, featured on the Townsville Council website

All national servicemen are ex-servicemen. They march in their own right on Anzac Day, Remembrance Day, National Service Day, Vietnam Veterans Day and Reserve Forces Day. National servicemen marched as a contingent in the army’s centenary parade in Canberra in 2001. They wear a wide variety of service and corps badges on their hats, caps and berets and many are members of unit associations in all three services. The late Barry Vicary founded the National Servicemens Association of Australia in Toowoomba, Queensland on 28 November 1987 to seek a better deal for Vietnam-era national servicemen, and a medal recognising national service was introduced. The association now has branches Australia-wide and is the second-largest ex-service organisation after the RSL.

Callaghan:

All National Servicemen are ex-servicemen. They march on Anzac Day, Remembrance Day, National Service Day, Vietnam Veterans and Long Tan Days and Reserve Forces Day in their own right. No women were called up for National Service. National Servicemen marched as a contingent in the Army’s Centenary Parade in Canberra in 2001. They wear a wide variety of Service and Corps badges on their hats, caps and berets and many are members of Unit associations in all Three Services.

The late Barry Vicary founded the National Servicemen’s Association of Australia in Toowoomba, Queensland, in 1987 by to seek a better deal for Vietnam – era National Servicemen and a Medal recognising National Service. When Barry learnt of the earlier and larger National Service Scheme he immediately widened the organisation to include them. The Association now has branches Australia – wide and is the second- largest ex- service organisation after the RSL.

Even a recent tribute to the late Jimmy Little was a lift from the Country Music Hall of Fame website, laced with a few personal observations. (I have to say, it was Lynn musing on the traditions of reggae that sent me off looking for original source material):

Lynn:

As is the tradition of reggae music, Jimmy aimed to inspire Indigenous youth as a role model and as a mentor and teacher for the Indigenous adult education course at the Eora College of Performing Arts at Redfern.

Country Music Hall of Fame:

As it is in the tradition of reggae music Jimmy aimed to inspire indigenous youth as a role model and as a mentor/teacher for the indigenous adult education course at the Eora college for performing arts in Redfern.

 Lynn:

In 1999, at the insistence of Brendan Gallagher, a musician and producer, they recorded an album of mainly alternative and classic Australian rock songs from the 1980s. The resulting album, Messenger, was an immediate success reaching the top 10 of the alternative music charts and introducing Jimmy to a new young audience through extensive airplay on the youth network Triple J FM. 

 Country Music Hall of Fame:

At the insistence of Brendan Gallagher, a musician and producer, they recorded an album of mainly alternative and classic Australian rock songs from the 1980s. The resulting album “Messenger” was an immediate success reaching the top ten of the alternative music charts and introducing Jimmy to a new young audience through extensive airplay on the youth network Triple J FM.

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