Education Minister, Brendan Nelson, is promoting a trade union activist as the greatest symbol of Australian values.

The Minister wants children in Australian schools taught about Simpson and the donkey because he says the legendary hero of Gallipolli is at the heart of our national identity.

Caring for one another

“Responsibility, care for one another, tolerance, understanding, fair go, doing your best,” is what Simpson is all about the Minister told ABC Radio.

What the Minister didn’t say is that this hero of the Gallipoli campaign was a staunch trade union activist.

In fact, John Simpson Kirkpatrick – known by his mates as Simmo – was a hard drinking Scottish immigrant, and a proud union member, who came to Australia just before World War 1.

No respect for privilege

He jumped ship because he’d had enough of the life as a stoker. He was very political. He had no respect for the British House of Lords, seeing it as the seat of privilege.

And he saw Australia as a working man’s paradise.In a letter home he quoted the example of the arbitration court as delivering justice to working people.

Howard government killing off institution that Simmo praised

This is the same court – now known as the Industrial Relations Commission – that Brendan Nelson’s cabinet colleagues want to kill off.

The Australian War Memorial in Canberra plays up Simmo’s militant trade union background saying he was an itinerant labourer and a miner before enlisting, using a false name, with the 3rd Field Ambulance.

He lasted just 24 days at Gallipoli before he was killed by machine-gun fire.