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Judicial CP - April 1999

AAP General News (Australia), 25 April 1999

WA: RSL chief's Anzac speech attacks governments, criminals

PERTH, April 25 AAP - Western Australia's RSL [Returned Services League] state president today used an Anzac Day speech to attack defence cuts and to call for corporal punishment for criminals.

Ken Bladen paid a brief tribute to Anzac veterans during his speech, but a crowd of thousands in Perth also heard some of RSL's strong political views.

Mr Bladen said since the 1970s, Commonwealth funding for the armed forces had steadily declined and successive Federal Governments were instead making the maintenance of peacekeeping forces a national priority.

"Australia was not prepared in 1939 and we are not prepared in 1999," he said.

"History proves two things: that disaster often strikes with little warning and that the seeds of victory or defeat are sown years before an actual event.

"Currently Australia is weak and unprepared. There is growing instability in our geographical region and it will be national peril if we remain unprepared."

Mr Bladen said the league wanted to see corporal punishment for criminals and advocated a federal, bipartisan "war on drugs", with uniform drug laws and longer jail terms.

"The league abhors the continued upsurge in crime in the community, especially attacks on the elderly, and we want the reintroduction of corporal punishment of those who are proven guilty," Mr Bladen said.

"It has been successful in a number of countries and would be successful here."

He said later he also wanted corporal punishment reintroduced in schools.

Mr Bladen said the Anzac qualities of self-reliance, self-discipline, mateship and loyalty were honourable and enduring and should be learned at a young age.

He said it was society's responsibility to provide children with a stable environment in which to develop those traits.

The Anzac Day ceremony at The Esplanade, which included hundreds of service and ex-service personnel, followed a dawn service at the War Memorial in Kings Park this morning and a march through Perth.

Services were held throughout Western Australia today and commemorations in Perth will finish with a tribute to the Vietnam veterans at a football match between Fremantle and Brisbane at Subiaco Oval at 6pm (AWST).

The Len Hall game was named after Gallipoli veteran Len Hall, who died in February this year aged 101.

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