Comparison to diggers upsets RSL

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd's address at a memorial service for victims of Victoria's bushfires has upset members of ex-service organisations.

Laidley RSL sub-branch president Warren Ball described Mr Rudd's comparison of the courage of firefighters with that of military personnel as a “bit over the top”.

Mr Rudd said in his address: “… a new army of heroes where the yellow helmet evokes the same reverence as the slouch hat of old.”

“As much as the firefighters deserve all the praise they can get, it is bit much to compare their yellow helmets to Diggers' slouch hats,” Mr Ball said.

“I think we need to keep things in perspective here.

“The Australian slouch hat has been around for more than 100 years, and is recognised throughout the world for what it represents.

“On the other hand, firefighters' equipment is constantly changing to meet needs as they arise.

“Also, their gear is common with just about every other firefighting unit anywhere on the planet.

“I think the Prime Minister should take a leaf out of Paul Keating's book and hire a speechwriter along the lines of Don Watson who wrote Mr Keating's excellent speech when our Unknown Soldier was laid to rest at the Australian War Memorial.

“While I appreciate Mr Rudd's sentiment, I now call on him to rethink his analogy.”



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