Sunday, 25 May 2025

Books of Journalism

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Hideout in the Apocalypse is about surveillance and the crushing of Australia’s larrikin culture.
In the last two years the Abbott/Turnbull government has prosecuted the greatest assault on freedom on freedom of speech in the nation’s history.
The government knew from international research that when it introduced the panopticon, universal surveillance, into Australia it would have a chilling effect on the culture. When people know they are being watched, they behave differently. Dissent is stifled, conformity becomes the norm. This is the so-called chilling effect.
Forced to use novelistic techniques to tell a fantastical story, in his latest book Hideout from the Apocalypse veteran reporter John Stapleton confirms the old adage, truth is stranger than fiction.


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The daily robbing, bashing, drugging, extortion and murder of foreign tourists on Thai soil, along with numerous scandals involving unsafe facilities and well established scams, has led to frequent predictions that Thailand’s multi-billion-dollar tourist industry will self-destruct. Instead tourist numbers more than doubled in the decade to 2014. The world might not have come to the hometowns of the many visitors fascinated by Thailand, but it certainly came to the Land of Smiles.

Thailand: Deadly Destination exposes one of the worst scandals in the annals of modern tourism, the high number of deaths and mishaps befalling tourists. Thailand is the single most dangerous destination on Earth for Australians, while more British tourists die in Thailand than any other country bar Spain, which has 12 times the level of visitation. Scandalously, the US State Department has refused to release statistics on the number of American citizens dying in Thailand each year.



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Terror in Australia: Workers' Paradise Lost, by veteran journalist John Stapleton, is a beautifully written snapshot of a pivotal turning point in the history of the so-called Lucky Country.  This book is a side-winding missile into the heart of Australian hypocrisy. 

In 2015 there were well attended Reclaim Australia demonstrations in every major capital city, all protesting what the demonstrators saw as the growing Islamisation of Australia, along with countering anti-racism demonstrations. There were frequent violent clashes, hundreds of police were forced to form lines separating the demonstrators in Sydney and Melbourne, there were a significant number of arrests and injuries, and dozens of people were treated for the effects of capsicum spray. The terror alert was at its highest level ever, the country was engaged in an unpopular and discredited war in Iraq and Syria, and relations between the government and an increasingly radicalised Muslim minority had broken down. An optimistic, freedom loving country with an irreverent, larrikin culture and a wildly optimistic view of its place in the world lost faith in its own story. Well documented, switching through multiple points of view, Terror in Australia: Workers' Paradise Lost is a sometimes frightening, sometimes intensely lyrical step inside a democracy in serious trouble.




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Hunting the Famous is a meditation on journalism and writing by veteran news reporter John Stapleton. Spanning the decades from the late 1969 to 2009, the book covers everything from the writer and journalist's early years, saddled with a compulsion to write and not much else, to his years as a general news reporter on Australia's two best newspapers, <em>The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian. Prior to becoming a staff reporter Stapleton's unlikely promise to himself to live or die by the typewriter led to a string of encounters with some of the world's most famous authors, including Gore Vidal, Dirk Bogarde, Paul Bowles, Joseph Heller, Al Alvarez, Anthony Burgess and Salman Rushdie. Hunting the Famous also includes affectionate portraits of Australian writers such as author David Malouf, poet Vicki Viidikas and hard drinking journalistic legends including Jack Darmody and Joe Glascott.


As a news reporter Stapleton encountered and wrote stories about everyone from street alcoholics to Australian Prime Ministers, including Bob Hawke and Paul Keating. He covered thousands of stories, from the staple flood, drought, fire and natural disasters of the Australian bush to scenes of urban dysfunction in inner Sydney. Hunting the Famous covers a period of profound change within newspapers as the Information Revolution transformed the nature of the profession.


Hunting the Famous will be available in paperback in 2017.



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Thirty-seven years after the end of the Vietnam War an historic event occurred at busy Da Nang Airport, an Agent Orange hot spot where tonnes of the infamous herbicide were decanted and reloaded on to cargo planes for spraying across the country's lush fields and forests. Dioxin, the accidental contaminant in Agent Orange responsible for many tens of thousands of birth defects and early deaths, is regarded as probably the most poisonous of all the compounds ever devised by man. This 10,000 word page primer records the events which lead up to the year when the wrongs of the past were finally addressed in joint efforts by the American and Vietnamese governments. This short book is the perfect way to bring yourself up to date on this vexed and long running issue.







Chaos At The Crossroads concludes: Successive governments from both left and right have failed to listen to their constituents and respond to their concerns. They have resorted to vested inquiries in the hands of the mandarins and publicly funded elites whose feigned attempts to listen to the views of ordinary people have then been heavily reinterpreted. They have delayed progress through the extensive manipulation of committees or other forms of alleged inquiry. These same governments, even when they were enacting legislative reforms, left their enforcement in the hands of institutions notoriously resistant to change. They allowed or encouraged fashionable ideology, institutional inertia and bureaucracy to triumph over common sense. Common decency was lost long ago. 
"In terms of human suffering, the Australian public has already paid dearly for the failure to reform outdated, badly administered and inappropriate institutions dealing with family law and child support - and for the failure of governments to take seriously the experiences and voices of the men and women most directly affected by them. The country's failure to reform family law and child support is ultimately a failure of democracy itself."








Dads On The Air, often shortened to DOTA, is a community radio program which began in western Sydney in August of 2000 with a small group of extremely disgruntled separated men who had no experience of radio and no resources. The author of Chaos at the Crossroads: The Birth of Dads On The Air, William John Stapleton, worked as a mainstream journalist and was the only one with any media experience.

The series of short books in the Chaos at the Crossroads series tell the story of the long struggle for family law reform in Australia, not just by separated fathers, their supporters and their lobby groups, but by grandparents and other family members cut out of children's lives by the discriminatory and destructive sole-custody model purveyed by the court.

Chaos also tells the story of how, from the humble beginnings of a disheveled group of disgruntled separated fathers, Dads On The Air became the world's most famous radio program dedicated to fatherhood issues. 

The program evolved with the information revolution. The technology which would allow a small group of people with few resources to make available a weekly 90 minute radio program and give it the penetration and power it went on to achieve simply had not existed five years before. Dads On The Air has over time interviewed almost all the world's leading national and international activists, advocates, academics and authors.










Refusing to hide, Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia Alastair Nicholson, scheduled to appear before an inquiry into family law and child support, entered Australia's Parliament House in Canberra via the front door on the 10th October 2003.

As Chief Justice of one of the most unpopular courts in the country, Nicholson had become a key figure fuelling discontent with Australia's political, bureaucratic and judicial wings of government. With millions of Australians having gone through the shredder of the country's divorce regime, he had become a focus for community discontent.

So heightened had the debate around Nicholson become that politicians rightly feared the general public were losing faith in the country's governance.

Nicholson was arguably the single most outspoken, certainly the most controversial judge ever to serve in the Australian court system; deeply hated by some, admired by others. Politicians from both sides of politics had reason to fear his ever ready tongue.

The appearance before the Inquiry of the one man who had done more to shape the nature of Australian family law than any other individual had been looked forward to by his critics with a kind of wonder and anticipation, a fascination for the grotesque.

Despite a plethora of Inquiries, including a devastating critique from the government's chief adviser on legal matters the Australian Law Reform Commission, doubt was not a trait Nicholson ever displayed in public.

Was this the inquiry which would finally nail him to the wall?

To the chagrin of his critics, Nicholson showed not a sliver of regret or self-doubt. He has continued to be outspoken since his retirement from the bench and move into academic life.




AUTHOR BIO:


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Stapleton_(Australian_journalist)


The first money Australian journalist John Stapleton ever made out of writing was in 1972 when he was co-winner of a short story competition held by what was then Australia's leading cultural celebration, the Adelaide Arts Festival[1].
He graduated from Macquarie University in 1975 with a double major in philosophy and did post-graduate work with the Sociology Department at Flinders University.[2]
As a freelance journalist in the 1970s and 1980s, while alternating between living in Sydney and London, his articles and fiction appeared in a wide range of magazines, newspapers and anthologies, including the now defunct Bulletin[3] and The Australian Financial Review.
John Stapleton worked on the then esteemed newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald as a staff news reporter between 1986 and 1994. The paper was then listed as one of the Top 20 newspapers in the world.
He worked for the national newspaper The Australian from 1994 to 2009.
His books include: Thailand: Deadly Destination, Terror in Australia: Workers' Paradise Lost, Chaos at the Crossroads: Family Law Reform in Australia, Hunting the Famous, The Twilight Soi and The Final Days of Alastair Nicholson.
Hunting the Famous is a meditation on journalism and writing which spans more than 40 years, form the late 1960s until 2010.
Prior to becoming a staff reporter Stapleton's unlikely promise to himself to live or die by the typewriter led to a string of encounters with some of the world's most famous authors, including Gore Vidal, Dirk Bogarde, Paul Bowles, Joseph Heller, Al Alvarez, Anthony Burgess, Norman Mailer and Salman Rushdie. Hunting the Famous also includes affectionate portraits of Australian writers such as author David Malouf, poet Vicki Viidikas and hard drinking journalistic legends such as Jack Darmody and Joe Glascott.
As a news reporter Stapleton encountered and wrote stories about everyone from street alcoholics to Australian Prime Ministers, including Bob Hawke and Paul Keating. He covered many hundreds of stories, from the staple flood, drought, fire and natural disasters of the Australian bush to scenes of urban dysfunction in inner Sydney. Hunting the Famous covers a period of profound change within newspapers as the Information Revolution transformed the nature of the profession.
Thailand: Deadly Destination, an expose of the tourist safety in the so-called Land of Smiles, received widespread coverage.[4]
The pamphlet Agent Orange: The Cleanup Begins, documents the efforts to rid Vietnam of the legacy of the accidental byproduct of Agent Orange, dioxin, a key factor in the high levels of disability the country suffered after the Vietnam War.
After leaving The Australian John Stapleton established the niche publishing company A Sense of Place Publishing. Books published by the company include Travels with My Hat: A Lifetime on the Road by Christine Osborne, America's Destruction of Iraq by Michael O'Brien and Bloody Colonials by Stafford Sanders.
He continues to write as a contributor for the news site The New Daily.
His next book, due out in late 2016, is called Hideout in the Apocalypse.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Amnesty International accuses Australia of ‘war crimes’ in fight against Islamic State, The New Daily, 12 July, 2017.

http://thenewdaily.com.au/news/world/2017/07/12/australia-war-crimes-iraq-islamic-state-iraq/


NEWS WORLD
9:42pm, Jul 12, 2017 Updated: 4h ago

Amnesty International accuses Australia of ‘war crimes’ in fight against Islamic State


Amnesty report says Australia, as part of the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State, has committed war crimes in Iraq. Photo: Getty
John Stapleton
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Australia has committed war crimes in Iraq as the second-largest contributor to the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State, according to an Amnesty International report.

While Iraq and the United States have claimed victory over IS in Mosul, thousands of bodies still lie in the pulverised ruins.

Almost one million people have fled. The Iraqi Army has lost up to 40 per cent of its attack force. Estimates of the number of civilians killed range over 13,000. The exact number will never be known.

Amnesty International spokesperson Diana Sayed told The New Daily the 225kg bombs dropped into the crowded streets of Mosul had a shock radius of 230 metres and resulted in needless casualties.

“Pro-government forces, including Australia, failed to take feasible precautions to protect civilians during the battle for west Mosul – through launching barrages of indiscriminate, disproportionate and otherwise unlawful attacks, and failing to provide adequate warnings prior to bombardments. The realities of living under the Islamic State often meant people were trapped and unable to leave their homes,” she said.

“Australia and its allies in Iraq should publicly acknowledge the massive loss of lives during the Mosul operation.”

The report, titled ‘At Any Cost: The Civilian Catastrophe in West Mosul, Iraq’, said Iraqi and US forces did not meet humanitarian law requirements.

“Iraqi government and US-led coalition forces failed to adequately adapt their tactics to these challenges – as required by international humanitarian law – with disastrous consequences for civilians. Pro-government forces relied heavily upon explosive weapons with wide area effects. These weapons wreaked havoc in densely populated west Mosul, where large groups of civilians were trapped.”

If military planners were unaware of the likely civilian toll, it quickly became evident.

“It was pro-government soldiers who assisted in countless front-line rescues, digging bodies out of collapsed buildings, separating the injured from the dead and arranging the transport of thousands to medical facilities,” the report said.

High Commissioner for the United Nations Human Rights Office, Zeid Al Hussein, said he urged the coalition to comply with humanitarian laws.

“I repeatedly called on coalition partners to ensure that military operations complied with international humanitarian law,” he said in a statement this week.

“Airstrikes were a significant factor in causing civilian casualties.”

An Iraqi woman and children flee the Old City of Mosul on July 3 as Iraqi-forces closed in on Islamic State fighters. Photo: Getty

The Amnesty International report came in the days after Human Rights Watch argued there had been major breaches of international law in its ‘Civilian Casualties Mount in West Mosul: Coalition’ report.

The group has also reported on mass graves in government-controlled areas, indicating war crimes.

A spokeswoman for the group Belkis Wille told The New Daily: “All of the families I speak to have a story about neighbours, loved ones or friends being killed in airstrikes. The people coming out of west Mosul are the most traumatised I have ever interviewed.”

Experts warn that Islamic State, far from being defeated, have created a major jihad spectacle which will drive recruitment.

Security expert Professor Clinton Fernandes told The New Daily: “While the public is generally unaware of most US military operations, since the media has largely been scrubbed clean of this kind of coverage, radical groups rely on satellite TV and the internet to get a different message out.”

Terror expert Dr Clarke Jones told The New Daily the deaths of so many civilians could drive extremism.

“Here is another case where the West has stepped in and caused the death of innocents. There are a lot of angry people. They see this injustice and want to take action,” he said.

Defence Minister Marise Payne was unavailable for comment.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Islamic State loses the battle for Mosul, The New Daily, 7 July, 2017.

http://thenewdaily.com.au/news/world/2017/07/05/after-mosul-war-will-go-on/

Islamic State loses the battle for Mosul, but don’t dare to believe the war is won


Iraqi forces have retaken all but a small, rubble-strewn strip of Mosul where Islamist fanatics are fighting to the death. Photo: Getty
John Stapleton
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Islamic State (IS) has released graphic footage of its final hours in war-ravaged Mosul in northern Iraq as experts around the world warn that America and Australia have fallen into a jihad trap.

While the West crows of victory and “liberation”, IS wants everyone to know what has happened there. Pictures of wounded and dying children, shell-shocked mothers and fleeing families are being widely disseminated.

The footage, released through their official media outlet Amaq, shows IS fighters, known as mujahedeen or holy warriors, firing rifles as they fight their way through the city’s severely bombed streets.

Horror stories abound, of children rounded up from orphanages and placed on the front line, of entire families killed by airstrikes.

With water and food supplies cut, more than 800,000 people have fled the city. Humanitarian workers report the civilian population the most traumatised they have ever seen.

There are only a few hundred IS fighters left in a thin strip estimated to run for 300 metres from the Tigris River. All are expected to die in the coming hours.

Thousands of their comrades have been killed in the battle to retake Mosul, which began in October last year. Hundreds more have blown themselves up in suicide attacks.

It was in Mosul that IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a Muslim caliphate in 2014.

Since then, IS has attracted followers around the world and changed the face of terror forever.
Fighters directed by Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi are being pulverised in Iraq.

Speaking on the third anniversary of that day, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi praised his troops on “the big victory”.

“Praise be to God, we managed to liberate Mosul,” al-Abadi said.

Both the US-led Coalition forces and the Iraq military have been pounding the city all week. Australia has also been dropping more than $30 million worth of bombs on the city a month, 119 strikes in May alone.

Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Radicalisation Charlie Winter warns that the destruction of Mosul will fuel jihadi propaganda worldwide.

“The truth is, IS has been planning for defeat in Mosul for months, if not years. Losing the city has long been part of its global plan,” he said.

“The caliphate has been doing all it can to make sure it could be seen to be putting up a fight.

“Although IS’s audacious ultraviolence ultimately set the scene for its material undoing, it also meant that it could work towards creating the world it wanted to inhabit – a polarised turbulent place that accommodated the jihadist ideology uncannily well.”

Senior analyst with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute John Coyne told The New Daily he agreed: “Anyone who thinks the fall of Mosul is going to end all this is fooling themselves. We call the Australian political response ‘security theatre’. Kill them at the source, get tough on terror, but whether that is a strategy for victory over the jihadists is hotly contested.”IS fighters paraded through Raqqa when the rebel movement seemed unstoppable. Now their last sanctuary is also poised to fall.

While the Shia-dominated Iraq Army celebrates victory over the Sunni-majority town of Mosul, there are numerous questions over the military’s behaviour. Human Rights Watch says there are numerous reports of wanton killings.

The iman of the al-Nuri mosque, destroyed last week, said he longed for the return of the caliphate:

“The reason we supported Daesh is because of the abuses of the army. People started looking for salvation regardless of what the alternative was.”

At the same time as IS confronts certain defeat in Mosul, it is also facing losses in its de facto capital of Raqqa in Syria, with US Central Command claiming major advances through the Old City.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Iraq Declares the End of the Islamic State Caliphate, The New Daily, 30 june, 2017.



Iraq declares the end of the Islamic State caliphate


Iraqi forces have retaken the area of Mosul where Islamic State officially declared its reign of terror. Photo: Getty
John Stapleton


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The Iraqi government has announced the end of the caliphate after capturing the Al-Nuri Mosque in Western Mosul, the place where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the formation of the caliphate and unleashed a reign of terror on the world.

“Their fictitious state has fallen,” an Iraqi military spokesman, Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, told Iraqi state television.

Only an estimated 350 Islamic State soldiers remain in an area of less than one square kilometre in the ancient city.

Experts warn that the brutal nature of the Mosul occupation is fuelling extremism around the world. While the exact numbers are concealed in the rubble of the ancient city, the mujahideen soldiers of Islamic State, civilians and Iraqi personnel have died in their many hundreds.

As streams of Sunni muslims flee from the pulverised ruins of their neighbourhoods they pass bodies rotting in the intense heat.

More than 860,000 people have fled the city since the Iraq Army, backed by Coalition airstrikes, including from Australia, began pounding the city last October.

Eight months of gruelling combat later Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city and encompassing the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh, and whole districts of what the Bible refers to as the “Great City”, look like scenes from an apocalypse.

Back then, Army officers boasted it would be mere days before they retook the city where al-Baghdadi declared an Islamic Caliphate in 2014.

While some of the civilians being “liberated” from the city display gratitude, or ingratiate themselves with their new conquerors, it is clear from footage of the frontline that the civilian Sunni population are as terrified of the Coalition-backed Shias of the Iraqi Army as they may once have been of Islamic State.

Human Rights Watch says thousands of Sunni Muslims have been tortured, killed or disappeared.

There are numerous concerns over the behaviour of the conquering Iraq Army, which is backed by both America and Australia. Footage from French television shows officers laughing at dead Islamic State soldiers.

Belkis Wille, Senior Iraq Researcher with Human Rights Watch, told The New Daily the civilian population is “extremely traumatised”.

“The civilians are highly traumatised. Mosul is the largest urban war in modern history. The west of the city and the neighbourhood still under ISIS control are extremely densely populated,” she said.

“Every direction you look you have hundreds of civilians packed into buildings. People who come out don’t complain about the horrific three years under ISIS, they complain about the airstrike that killed their family, despite them having made it through those three years.

“People have lost entire families, their homes, their livelihoods. They are coming out with absolutely nothing.”

Ms Wille said the Iraqi Army had also perpetrated abuses against the Sunni minority with impunity – the exact same conditions which led to the formation of the Islamic State.

“This battle is going to have very negative long term consequences for the country. If it’s not ISIS today, then it’s ISIS 2.0 tomorrow.”

All sides talk of God, from the Islamic State ‘martyrs’ to the conquering army to the devastated civilians.

“I have lost five children, there is no God but Allah,” says one shellshocked woman as she stumbles across the frontline, recorded by French television.

Dr Clarke Jones, terror expert at the Australian National University, told The New Daily the Coalition might trumpet the fall of Mosul as a symbolic triumph over terrorism, but it had not made the world safer.

“Many can see that military conflict is a greater driver of militancy than the military victory itself,” he said.

“It is all very well for the West to say it has won against Mosul. The West forgetting the back channels of reporting of the death of innocent civilians.

“That has a far greater impact and is fuelling the ideology of Islamic State and the narrative of the persecution of Muslims.”

Martin Chulov, one of the world’s leading experts on Islamic State, told The New Daily: “The genie is out of the bottle in the sense that the virulent ideology that ISIS fosters by tapping into grievances of the disenfranchised – in their case ‘persecuted’ Sunnis – will be fed by their ousting.

“They have given up, for now, on controlling geography, in favour of controlling populations – through terror attacks abroad. These will continue, even after they are chased from their last strongholds in Syria.”

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Australian War Planes Dropping More bombs on Iraq than ever, The New Daily, 22 June, 2017.

http://thenewdaily.com.au/news/national/2017/06/21/australian-military-iraq/

Australian warplanes dropping more bombs on Iraq than ever


Australia has temporarily halted air operations over Syria. Photo: Australian Defence Force: Sgt Pete
John Stapleton
SHARETWEETSHAREREDDITPINEMAILCOMMENT



At the same time as Australia has withdrawn from Syrian airspace under threat of being bombed out of the sky by Russia, the Australian Defence Force is dropping historically high numbers of bombs on Iraq.

Australia is the second-largest contributor to the American-led coalition efforts to defeat Islamic State in the increasingly controversial quagmire of the Middle East.

This week Australia suspended flights over Syria as a “precautionary measure”.

The US shot down a Syrian military jet on Sunday and Russia has threatened retaliation. It declared Australian jets a target and has threatened to shoot down any coalition planes flying west of the Euphrates River.

The latest figures just released by the ADF show that so far this year Australian FA/18 Super Hornets have dropped 390 bombs on Islamic State positions in Iraq, 119 in the month of May alone. This is the highest number since Tony Abbott took the country into the conflict in September 2014.

The most recent fortnightly update of the conflict issued by the ADF shows virtually all the activity in Iraq is centred around Mosul, where the last of the Islamic State forces are holed up. Mosul is a major city in northern Iraq, located on the Tigris River opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh.

Worldwide condemnation of civilian deaths from coalition bombs in the narrow, medieval streets of West Mosul is blighting the war effort.

The Defence Department and Defence Minister Marise Payne have repeatedly ignored questions from The New Daily on the size of the bombs Australia is dropping and any available estimates of civilian casualties.

However, a report from Human Rights Watch this month documents evidence of bombs between 500 and 2000 pounds.Islamic State’s stronghold in Mosul is being surrounded by US-led coalition forces.

The report, titled Iraq: Civilian Casualties Mount in West Mosul, states: “Munitions of this size can pose an excessive risk to civilians when used in populated areas, given their large blast and fragmentation radius. The … attacks may have caused disproportionate civilian harm in comparison to the military advantage gained, in violation of international humanitarian law.”

More than 600,000 civilians have fled Mosul this year, but 200,000 remain.

There are fears civilian deaths will rise rapidly in the final days of the conflict.

The Iraq army, backed with coalition airstrikes, are claiming to control more than 90 per cent of the city.

Military experts have told The New Daily civilian casualties are almost inevitable.

Melbourne-based medic Derek Ross, who has just returned from working with the group Global Outreach Doctors in Mosul, told The New Daily: “I treated civilians for the same bullet and blast injuries as the soldiers on the front line. We would often treat multiple members of the same family who were all injured by the same mortar attack.

“The uninjured children that were brought to the trauma centre with their injured family members were numb and silent.”

Former secretary to the Department of Defence Paul Barratt told The New Daily: “In an urban environment civilian casualties are almost inevitable. If you don’t want to have pictures of dead children on the evening screens you have to avoid operations that involve killing children.”

Dr Clark Jones, a terrorism expert at the Australian National University, told The New Daily there was an extremely high chance of civilian casualties.

“The public does not have much appetite for pictures of dead children, women and older people.”