August 19

“Self-centred politicans do not understand importance of tradition”

Cancelling the beating the retreat ceremony at the Royal Military College, Duntroon, to save a meagre $83,000 is pathetic,  said  John George Cherrybrook in a letter to The Sydney Morning Herald on 19 August, published under the heading “Hasty retreat to save money

He concluded: ”The Rudd Government has no understanding of the importance of maintaining tradition in the Defence Force. It would not occur to such self-centred politicians that tradition is one of the key drivers of morale, which in turn leads to success in combat. To make the Defence Force abandon tradition indicates what little regard this Government has for our fighting men and women.”

[ Marching Band; Beating the Retreat, Duntroon, 2006 ]

Brendan Nicholson, the Herald’s Defence Correspondent reported that  thanks to the Government's insistence that the Department of  Defence find savings of $20 billion to pay for its new ships, submarines and jets, the Department  has cancelled the ''beating the retreat'' ceremony at the Royal Military College, Duntroon. (''It's overture and out as cuts hit home'', August 18).

“This includes the spectacular rendition of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture complete with cannon blasts that has regularly been part of the display. Past retreat ceremonies have involved 200 cadets, bands, field guns and fireworks,” he reported.


In a statement yesterday the ADF said it could not afford to stage both the retreat ceremony and the Queen's Birthday Parade this financial year.  He reported that a spokeswoman said the retreat ceremony cost about $83,000 and the Queen's Birthday Parade about $24,500.

“The retreat is an adaptation of military tradition going back to the 16th century when guns were fired and drums beaten at dusk to warn patrolling soldiers and workers in fields to retreat to fortifications for the night as the gates were about to be locked.

The Queen's Birthday Parade was also cancelled this year because of an outbreak of swine flu but it will be back on again next year.

A decision on whether the retreat ceremony would be held next year would be made when Defence examined whether it had enough money, an ADF statement said. 


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