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Real heroes and media heroes

By Sasha Uzunov - posted Wednesday, 9 September 2009

All the fuss surrounding Victorian State Minister Tim Holding surviving a two-day ordeal in the state’s snow country after being lost would suggest a society yearning for real life heroes and role models.

Some pundits have either downplayed or missed this trend, even though it is the elephant in the room! Dare I say it, in case of being accused of being on a “curious crusade”.

Neil Mitchell, Melbourne talkback radio king, wrote:


But for at least some of those worrying 48 hours, the politicians let their masks slip. They accepted a diminished sense of self-importance and became real people, with genuine fears. And we liked what we saw.

The only one apparently untouched by the mood change was Mr Holding, who stepped from the rescue helicopter like a prince on a royal tour, and shook hands with his shaken father, as though greeting another boring diplomat.

While young Mr Holding has never been given to public handstands, let's hope he spent some of those hours awaiting rescue thinking about the meaning of life, the universe and his place in it.

Perhaps we'll see a new Tim, who cares nothing if a memo has spelling errors and presents to TV cameras as something other than a wind-up doll.

Surprisingly, Mitchell, who is a protégé of Les Carlyon, legendary newspaperman and the Zeus of the Anzac Legend bards, has ignored Holding’s previous military service but focused on the young Minister’s penchant for grammar.

In fact it was quite refreshing seeing Holding not over-celebrate or break into tears when rescued as has been the fashion on some of those contrived reality television shows of late.

Perceptive novelist Anson Cameron wrote in, of all places, The Age on September 5:

The blogs and talkback (listeners) are a cacophony of the aggrieved wondering why a body would want to wander alone in far places.

It's sad to live in a time when a man is slated for walking alone on a mountain ... Could John McDouall Stuart have foreseen a day when Australians upbraided one another for going close to the edge?

Could Albert Jacka have imagined so many of his countrymen would come to believe mollycoddling themselves through their allotted span and dying amid a symphony of chirps and beeps given off by medical machines was a life lived?

What might Nancy Bird have made of an age where her fellow Australians sit there and tut, immersed in disapproval ...

How despondent would Sir John Monash be to see so many of his countrymen lost in a Bermuda triangle of couch, TV and fridge?

Jacka and Monash are World War I warriors and national icons.


Tim Holding served two years as an Army Reservist with elite 126 Signals Squadron , attached to 2 Company, 1 Commando Regiment at Fort Gellibrand, in Melbourne’s Williamstown suburb.

Lindsay Lorrain, vice-president of the 1st Commando Regiment Association, served with Mr Holding between 1991-93. Lorrain told the Herald Sun newspaper: "He underwent basic soldier training so he would have been subjected to the elements, and taught to cope with extended periods of cold or without food."

"He is a very likable and committed guy, but unfortunately he went down the path of politics and left the army."

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About the Author

Sasha Uzunov graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia, in 1991. He enlisted in the Australian Regular Army as a soldier in 1995 and was allocated to infantry. He served two peacekeeping tours in East Timor (1999 and 2001). In 2002 he returned to civilian life as a photo journalist and film maker and has worked in The Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan. His documentary film Timor Tour of Duty made its international debut in New York in October 2009. He blogs at Team Uzunov.

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