Publication Details

Cahill, R. (2014). The enemy within. Overland, (24 April),

Link to publisher version (URL)

Overland Literary Journal


As the Anzac commemoration industry, awash with millions of dollars of government and corporate investment, gears up to celebrate the centenary of the Gallipoli landing in 2015 (embracing in the process all Australian military adventures overseas going back to involvement in the New Zealand Maori Wars of 1863–64), and the Sudan intervention of 1885), it is salutary to reflect on a seldom discussed Australian military tradition closer to home – in fact, at home.

Simply, military might in Australia has, since early colonial days, been deployed on the home front. Forget the ‘feel good’ domestic use of military forces in times of cyclone, fire, flood, drought as aid and logistic adjuncts, and think instead of the political, the ‘otherness’ of Australia’s martial tradition. Just as the Anzac spirit embraces nineteenth century colonial conflicts before the Federation of Australia in 1901, so too does the domestic ‘otherness’.