Meet the Author: Dr Catherine Bond | Law

Meet the Author: Dr Catherine Bond

On Thursday 6 April the UNSW Law Book Forum Series returned for 2017 celebrating the publication of Dr Catherine Bond's first book, Anzac: The Landing, The Legend, The Law.

Joining a crowd of UNSW staff and students on the night were guests Professor Joan Beaumont (ANU), Professor Kimberlee Weatherall (University of Sydney) and Peter FitzSimons, who led discussions on the book, exploring the legal history of the term Anzac and its relevance to Australia today.

Inside UNSW Law sat down with Dr Catherine Bond to speak about her motivations in writing the book, the concepts and regulations uncovered in her research and how she is already looking ahead to her second book! 

What motivated you to write this book?

In March 2014, I came across a series of letters, received by the Federal Attorney-General’s Department in 1916, today held at the National Archives of Australia, letters written by family members asking permission to name their homes ‘Anzac’. So many sad letters, and all were denied. I started to do more work on how ‘Anzac’ the word was regulated, and while I hadn’t originally imagined the project would lead to a book, in the end there were so many questions I had about this area that I knew this was the only way to examine these – everything from, did the government have the power during WWI to regulate this word, through to, what has changed today? As a legal academic, it bothered me that this hardship was imposed on these families, through law, during what would have been a very dark time for them, and I wanted to explore why this regulation occurred and whether it should have been allowed to happen at all.

What does the legal history relating to ANZAC reveal about the wider significance of Anzac for contemporary Australia?

The fact that these restrictions are still in place today, 100 years after they were first introduced, illustrates and reinforces that ‘Anzac’, and everything that word stands for, continues to hold an important place in Australian community. The legal history also reveals how there has been a development in government and public opinion on what is deemed to be appropriate use of the word has changed over time. During World War I, no commercial use was permitted by the Attorney-General’s Department. This was relaxed a little as the century progressed, but not significantly. But, since about 2000, and particularly in the lead-up to the centenary of the Gallipoli landing in 2015, far more applications have been approved to use ‘Anzac’ – now overseen by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs – than ever before. ‘Anzac’ remains an important word in the Australian community, but how we commemorate what that word stands for has changed – it has become far more commercial over time.

How is the term Anzac regulated today?

Many of the same restrictions introduced in 1916 are still in force today, contained in the Protection of Word “Anzac” Regulations, which were introduced in 1921. You can’t name a business ‘Anzac’, or sell goods using the name ‘Anzac’ (even Anzac biscuits!) without permission from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. You can’t register ‘Anzac’ as a trade mark. You can’t name your home, boat, vehicle ‘Anzac’, and you can’t use ‘Anzac’ as the name of a charity. There are also restrictions on what roads can be named ‘Anzac’. There has been some relaxation of use of the word in relation to Anzac Day activities but, beyond that, much of the legal restrictions have remained the same over the last 100 years.

Do you argue that the regulation of Anzac needs to be reformed or adjusted?

In my book, I argue that the restrictions on use of ‘Anzac’ as the name of home, boat or vehicle should be removed. One hundred years ago these were introduced in part to maintain the sanctity of the word, protect it from overuse, and that was the justification for this restriction. I don’t think the same justification remains today in these areas. In terms of the commercial restrictions, I think these should continue. Even with the community reaction that can occur where ‘Anzac’ has been misused, at this point I don’t think the commercial control should be removed.

Why should we regulate Anzac at all?  Does the regulation impact our freedom of speech?

When the restrictions were introduced in 1916, it was done with the desire to protect the sanctity of the word, it was already felt that this word was a ‘sacred’ one, and needed to be protected from misuse or overuse. In relation to the business restrictions, that continues today – that this word is one of great significance to the Australian community (and in New Zealand) and deserves special protection from the law. This does impact on our freedom of speech, in terms of using it as the name of a business, or the name of our house. But we’re still free to use it in conversation, free to write about ‘Anzac’, whether on Twitter, or in a critical blogpost, or in a book.

Can you tell us about some of the more unusual aspects of this history that you have uncovered?

In Australia, a soldier, Hector Norman Walker, called his dog ‘Anzac’. The dog went through Gallipoli with him and when they returned home, he was medically discharged from service, then Walker and ‘Anzac’ performed on the stage together with a theatrical troupe. The word ‘Anzac’ was also part of that performing company’s name, which attracted attention of the authorities. It was decided that legal action wouldn’t be taken against Walker, and that ‘Anzac’ the dog could keep that name – but around the same time the poor dog was ‘dog-napped’! This was all reported in local newspapers. The dog was safely returned a few months later. ‘Anzac’ the dog had a few adventures.

In England, a gentleman named Charles Neville, through his company the South Coast Land Resort Company, ran a competition for the name of a new seaside suburb he was building. The winning name was ‘New Anzac-on-Sea’ – two entrants had submitted that name. However, it was later found to be the case that the competition was a sham, and Neville was tied up in the courts for a number of years – by which time ‘New Anzac-on-Sea’ had been renamed Peacehaven, and that remains the name of that coastal town, not far from Brighton in the UK, today.

This is your first book, have you started to think about where this research might take you next?

I have! One of the aspects I most enjoyed about ‘Anzac’ were the different legal stories that I discovered, the experiences that individuals had with the law during World War I. In my next book I’d like to examine these legal stories of individuals, focusing on individuals who made the law, enforced these laws, were imprisoned by them, were interned by them. It may be nearly 100 years since the end of World War I, but there are so many legal aspects that are yet to be explored in that space. 

Anzac: The Landing, The Legend, The Law can be purchased here.