Award-winning Byron-based documentary filmmaker David Bradbury says the ABC and mainstream media is ignoring protests against the US/Australia ‘war games’ at Shoalwater Bay in Queensland, which has already seen several grandmothers arrested.
Bradbury, who premiered his latest documentary War on Trial in Rockhampton, near the war-games site, on Saturday night, offered footage of the arrest yesterday of the grannies to the ABC but was rejected.
Speaking from Rockhampton, Bradbury said he was grateful for independent media such as Echonetdaily, which was even ‘more vital than ever’ for Australian democracy with media dominated by the Murdoch conservative press and a gutted ABC under siege from prime minister Tony Abbott.
He said he filmed the arrests of the grandmothers, who were charged for trespassing on the war-games site and refused bail in Rockhampton court yesterday (see AAP report in Echonetdaily).
Bradbury said the three grandmothers were conducting a peaceful protest when the incident happened, and he alerted local and national media, but they were not interested.
‘Media in Australian today is self-censored while working in a conservative environment and there is now an even greater need for information to be getting out, and that’s where independent media or alternative social media is so vital,’ he said.
‘The ABC and SBS budgets have been severely cut by the Abbott government which wants to rein in views not consistent with their own; and management has been stacked by Liberal-National Party cronies who in turn deliberately appoint conservative journalists.
‘There’s only small pockets of independent/objective journalists left in the public broadcasters, some on 4 Corners or Q&A… that’s why we should embrace independent media more.’
Bradbury said he was determined now to make a documentary on the grannies’ arrest as they were a great example of peaceful activism against war.
The internationally-renowned filmmaker is at the protest site this week in an effort to ‘challenge the US War Machine as 22,000 US Marines land in Australia’.
Bradbury said he decided to screen his latest documentary War on Trial in Rockhampton on Saturday night ‘in defiance’ of the current ‘war games’, Talisman Sabre 15.
‘Talisman Sabre sees our country shelled and “invaded” by 22,000 American soldiers from nuclear warships “softened” up before invasion with laser guided “smart bombs” and ship to shore massive firepower unleashed on the Australian continent,’ he said.
‘All in the name of making our country a more “peaceful” place in one of the most biodiverse and rich with flora and fauna places on the planet’.
Film too radical
Bradbury, who has won many Australian and international film festival awards, including five Australian Film Industry (AFI/ACTAA) prizes and two Oscar nominations, says War on Trial will not be shown on Australian television because ‘it’s too radical’.
‘It tells the story of the late Bryan Law’s trial with co-defendant Graeme Dunstan who disabled an Australian military helicopter during the 2011 Talisman Sabre Exercise with a garden maddock,’ he said.
‘It questions the basic nature of the Australian American military alliance and why we go to war.’
Because of their controversial nature and the increasingly conservative nature of mainstream Australian public and privately owned media, many of Bradbury’s documentaries have been made on a shoestring budget and not shown on TV, but he still manages to keep making films and putting them out anyway.
‘In today’s conservative political climate, where the media is often self censoring and the ABC under attack, to challenge our armed forces being embedded with the American military is regarded as unpatriotic,’ he said.
‘To question the notion that Australian forces should not invade Middle Eastern countries because there is no direct threat to Australia is tantamount to treason.
‘So I doubt the ABC or SBS or any of the commercial tv networks will want to show this film. That’s been my experience in the past.
‘After 40 years of covering wars and civil strife in Vietnam and Cambodia, East Timor, West Papua, Iraq and South America, I think America goes about solving conflicts the wrong way.
‘And as America’s faithful ally, Australia is constantly being drawn into unnecessary and very brutal, bloody wars. That’s what War on Trial is about and the symbolic action of Bryan Law in using a garden mattock to smite the War Machine. In this case, an Australian Army Tiger attack helicopter.
‘Bryan Law and Graeme Dunstan are real heroes for peace in my books and Brian should be awarded a posthumous medal for his action in drawing our attention to our moral responsibility and complicity as apathetic citizens in the murder of tens of thousands of innocent civilians overseas,’ Bradbury said.
Sold a pup
‘Even as we celebrate the military disaster that was Gallipoli, out of which the Anzac legend was born, to say we’ve been sold a pup by siding with America unquestioningly is seen as a waving a white flag to “Terrorism”, said the twice Oscar nominated war cameraman and foreign correspondent.
‘Our politicians and military commanders have learnt little after 100 years of defining our nation through war.
‘When will we grow up as a nation and have a truly independent foreign policy that doesn’t rely on a “Bully Buddy” to defend us?
‘Let’s not forget that in 1915 we invaded Turkey, a Muslim nation, on behalf of the King of England. Thousands of the flower of Australian youth were mowed down by the Turks defending their land.
‘Why did we expect any different outcome a century later when we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan on behalf of the American President? Wake up Australia.
‘Those wars inevitably rebound on Australians when we travel abroad with terrorist attack “paybacks”. You don’t invade another person’s country without fear of retribution.
‘If someone invaded our country, we’d pick up a gun or plant a roadside explosive device and try and take them out too, especially if they killed our wife or kids.
‘War only traumatises the best of our frontline soldiers who return with post=traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to take it out on their wives and kids because of what they’ve seen or been forced to do in war.
‘It happened like that in Vietnam. We repeated the same mistake in Iraq and Afghanistan,’ Bradbury said.
War on Trial is Bradbury’s third film set in Rockhampton and surrounds. He made Shoalwater: Up for Grabs (1994) with his long time university friend, then Midnight Oil lead singer-turned senator Peter Garrett, about shifty white-shoe brigade businessmen’s proposal to sandmine in Shoalwater Bay to produce white paint from the mineral sands of the ancient coastal dunes.
Within three weeks of the documentary airing on Channel Seven, the federal government moved to protect the area.
At the Rockhampton premiere of War on Trial, Japanese academic and renowned peace activist, Professor Kozue Akibayashi, spoke about the hidden social and environmental costs the people of Okinawa have paid for hosting US military bases on their small island where depleted uranium was secretly used by the Americans.
Depleted uranium causes birth defects. The US military denied its use in Okinawa and Puerto Rico training grounds but later evidence concluded they lied.