Archbishop says Kokoda more significant than Gallipoli

Adelaide's Archbishop Philip Wilson has weighed in on the debate about the relative importance of the Kokoda and Gallipoli campaigns.

The Australian reports that he said that Kokoda was in many ways "more significant for contemporary Australia than the Anzac campaign" and "of crucial importance to the survival of the Australian nation".

The claims, which The Australian said came from "left-wing historians" were rejected by Opposition Leader Kim Beazley.

In an opinion piece in The Australian on Monday, West Australian academic and former Liberal staff member Stephen Barton argued that the Australian campaign on Papua New Guinea's Kokoda Track had been falsely painted by successive left-wing historians and Labor leaders as "the battle that saved Australia".

Mr Barton wrote that the flagging Japanese army's southern thrust had "run out of steam" and that the Kokoda campaign marked "the beginning of the marginalisation of Australia's war effort".

RSL national secretary Derek Robson said Mr Barton's article was "pretty offensive to those who fought on Kokoda".

"It's a bit easy to be smart after the event, when you're looking at this years later, (but) Australians at the time believed they were under threat," he said.

The Kokoda Track campaign consisted of a series of battles during World War II between Japanese and Australian forces in the Owen Stanley Ranges of New Guinea.

Beazley with RSL against Kokoda claim (The Australian 25/4/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Stephen Barton: A myth generated by Labor (The Australian 24/4/06)

Military chaplains 'unsung heroes' (Catholic Weekly 23/4/06)
History wars surround Kokoda campaign (ABC TV Lateline 25/4/06)
Anzac Day: special tribute (Catholic Weekly 23/4/06)
It's a day to pray, says Carmel (Catholic Weekly 23/4/06)

26 Apr 2006