Melbourne Herald Sun 8 September 2005 at page 25

TEXT OF REPORT BEGINS:

Leaders condemn war claim

By Ian McPhedran

John Howard and Kim Beazley agreed yesterday that the Australian War Memorial's top historian is wrong over claims that Japanese plans to invade Australia in 1942 were a "myth". Both the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader flatly rejected Dr Peter Stanley's argument.

The historian has angered veterans' groups with his claim that Australia perpetuates the myth through a pathetic desire to exaggerate the nation's role in World War II. "The invasion myth had remained alive for 60 years, abetted by the seeming need of Australians to dramatise their situation in 1942,'' Dr Stanley said in a research paper submitted to the Griffith Review. "Why do we appear to want to believe that Australia really was threatened with invasion, that it was attacked?'' In the paper published last week, he said such a desire was "poignant and rather pathetic''.

Marking Battle for Australia Day at the War Memorial, Mr Howard said yesterday that in early 1942 the Australian mainland and the security and freedom of its people were directly threatened. "I pay . . a special honour to those men and women who participated in the Battle for Australia, whether as members of the services or as civilians, and all played a crucial role in repelling the attack,'' he said.

Mr Howard described Dr Stanley's views of Japanese activity, including 100 air raids from Broome to Townsville and the midget submarine attack on Sydney Harbour, as insubstantial. "The balance of historical evidence is against that (the myth theory) and I think the balance of experience of people is against it.

"I find it very hard to accept that the consequence of an Australian defeat at Milne Bay (in Papua New Guinea) and the consequence of the absence of American support, the battle of the Coral Sea, could have resulted in anything other than . . . a wholesale invasion of the Australian mainland,'' the Prime Minister said.

Mr Beazley was more blunt, saying Japanese invasion plans were still active into 1943. He said that Dr Stanley's paper was offensive and wrong. "There is no basis for saying that invasion was not a serious option,'' Mr Beazley said. "It is inconceivable that they (the Japanese) wouldn't have taken the opportunity. In the end a decision was taken not to launch, but only because they couldn't.''

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