This story was first published on April 9, 2013
Circulating message claims that Anzac Day badges were not sold at Mt. Warren Shopping Centre because the owner of the centre is from the Middle East and he refused permission for businesses in the complex to sell the badges.
The claims in the message are inflammatory and racist nonsense. No such ban was implemented at Mt. Warren Park Shopping Centre. Coles and Centre Management have denied any knowledge of such an incident. Nor are there any credible news or media reports that in any way confirm the claims in the message. The message is generally tacked on to a widely circulated diatribe that is falsely attributed to conservative political leader Bob Katter. So, the message is a lie within a lie. Spreading such misinformation serves only to generate hatred and resentment against some sectors of the Australian community. Passing on dangerous and divisive lies of this nature is irresponsible and ultimately un-Australian.
This message, which has been circulating via social media posts, political forums and email since mid-2012, claims that the selling of Anzac Day badges was banned at Queensland’s Mt. Warren Park Shopping Centre. According to the message, the Middle Eastern owner of the shopping center refused permission to sell Anzac Day badges in his building despite strong opposition to the ban from supermarket chain Coles who operate a store in the centre.
However, the claims in the message are untrue. No such Anzac Day badge ban occurred. Coles has responded to queries about the claim, noting via its Facebook Page:
we have read this comment before and have spoken to our Store Manager and Centre Management, both of which are unaware of where this started. At Coles, we have long supported ANZAC Day and badges are sold outside many of our stores across the country, including Warren Park.
If, as the message claims, Coles wanted to allow selling of the badges but was denied permission by the centre owner, then they would have certainly not missed an opportunity to set the record straight. Instead, the company denies that any such ban was imposed on them.
And in response to an October 2012 forum posting of the message, a participant contacted the centre and subsequently replied with the following:
Regarding the Mt. Warren Post.
It’s crap. I have just spoken to Centre Management about the matter & one of the Directors confirmed that ANZAC Badges have been sold at Mt. Warren for the last two years that he has been involved with Centre Management. They have been trying to find the originator of the eMail with out any luck.
Moreover, there are no credible news or media reports about such a ban and this absence of media interest is enough by itself to cast strong doubt on its veracity. It is simply laughable to suggest that Australia’s media would just ignore such a compelling story if it actually happened. And, of course, it is also laughable to suggest that organizations such as the RSL would not have launched well-publicized protests against such a ban.
The only “news” of the supposed ban consists of the above totally unsubstantiated Internet message. In reality, if such a ban had really taken place in a busy shopping centre, reports and protests about the ban would have come from many different sources, including members of the public, store managers, local journalists and – of course – the groups who actually sell the badges. News about the ban would certainly not consist solely of an inarticulate, breathless, ALL CAPS, unreferenced social media message. Especially one that circulates as part of another message that falsely and willfully attributes authorship of a recycled American political diatribe to conservative Australian politician Bob Katter.
In short, the message is nothing but a racist and inflammatory lie designed to further its unknown author’s skewed world-view.
It seems rather pathetic that some people who masquerade as patriots apparently find it necessary to pass around outright lies to support their narrow, racist, fear-fueled worldviews. Sending on such nonsense serves only to unfairly generate anger and resentment against sectors of the Australian community. Such misinformation serves only to further divide communities. Sending on messages of this nature is immoral and un-Australian.