(From left to right) Josephine Archer (Chair, Tamar Community Peace Trust) Albert van Zetten (Mayor of Launceston, Tasmania. and Trustee of the Peace Trust.) Frances Underwood (The widow of late Governor Peter Underwood) image by Monica Plunkett

(From left to right) Josephine Archer (Chair, Tamar Community Peace Trust) Albert van Zetten (Mayor of Launceston, Tasmania. and Trustee of the Peace Trust.) Frances Underwood (The widow of late Governor Peter Underwood) image by Monica Plunkett



By Frances underwood, april 2016

Good Morning Everyone.
Thank you for inviting me to open the Peter Underwood Peace Garden.  As we’ve heard the creation of this garden was inspired by our late Governor Underwood’s 2014 ANZAC day challenge for each of us to “actively strive for peace on a daily basis.” The project was brought to fruition under the leadership of Jean Hearn with the support of the Tamar Community Peace Trust and a lot of hard work from all concerned. Peter’s daughter Sophie, and I are pleased to be here with you today. Other members of our extended family are sad that they cannot be here today because of work and school commitments and of course two are permanently overseas.
Peter Underwood took his social responsibility immensely seriously, as an individual, as husband, father, grandfather, and judge and as Governor. He never lost an opportunity to raise awareness, deepen community understanding and speak out in defence of important principles such as access to justice, equality before the law and the independence of the judiciary, often knowing that it may be to his own detriment to do so. He was actively courageous and outspoken in support of peace and the non-glorification of war. As his son William pointed out at his funeral, it was Edmund Burke who warned that evil flourished “when good men did nothing.” Peter Underwood was a good man who believed in taking action.
In 2014 Australia commemorated 100 years of war, paid tribute to the suffering and sacrifice of those affected by war and honoured those who died.  Sweden, celebrated 200 years of peace.  Recently, in an opinion piece in The Mercury, author Robert Cox drew attention to the fact that for the past 200 years Sweden has maintained armed non-aligned neutrality.[1] He called it pragmatic pacifism. Sweden has not fought in a war since 1814. In that time more 102,000 Australians have died serving in foreign conflicts. Sweden does take part in military exercises and does contribute to peacekeeping operations overseas. As well as being pragmatic in its approach to armed conflict, Sweden is also active in leading the world in education for skilled peace negotiation and conflict resolution, through its Peace and Conflict Studies at Masters and PhD level at its oldest University, Uppsala, founded in 1477. Students come from all over the world to study there, including a young Tasmanian, a 2016 International Rotary Peace Fellow, sponsored by Salamanca Rotary. Students learn to critically examine, assess and analyse the origin, dynamics and resolution of armed conflicts, on a scientific basis. The skills learned by graduates are applied, through their various roles in government agencies and private practice all over the world.
Peace is ingrained in the culture of Sweden. It is not yet part of our culture but Robert Cox, Lynley Grant, President of the Women’s International league for Peace and Freedom, who recently posed the question “what about Australia acting independently and reducing military spending”[2] and Jean Hearn with her Peace Festival and Peace Garden provoke us into thinking about how we can change the culture. Could Australia, as Robert Cox suggests, take up a position of armed unaligned neutrality.  And how good would it have been if, as Peter Underwood suggested, we were to have led the way, and taken up the recommendation of the original bi partisan National ANZAC Commemoration Commissionand, with some of the money set aside for ANZAC commemorations, have set up and funded a similar centre to Uppsala, in Tasmania; a centre dedicated to the study of the nature of social conflicts, causes of violence and definitions of peace as well as engaging in research into new approaches for resolving conflicts and associated skills.[3]
In his 2013 ANZAC day address, cutting straight to the heart of the matter, our late Governor Underwood said, one of the reasons communities gather on ANZAC day, as well as to remember, reflect on and honour those who died, should be “to resolve that, in the future, each of us will ask those hard questions about the meaning of wars, their causes and outcomes, in order to become resolute about peace. All our remembrances and honours are meaningless, unless we also vow to become resolute about peace because that is what those whom we remember and honour on this special day thought they were dying for,”[4] he said.  Noting, as reported by the original National ANZAC Commemoration Commission, that the bitterest disappointment of those who survived was that theirs was not the war to end all wars, he said,  [5] “mere remembrance and honour is not enough. It will neither bring nor preserve the peace for which they thought they died.”[6]
In the spirit of true remembrance, he suggested we declare 2015 the Year of Peace, a suggestion taken up by Jean Hearn.  The Year of Peace could be dedicated to building a culture of peace by examining and talking about the causes of war and how we get involved in war, “not in order to criticise past decision makers, but in remembrance of the dead, and to help us avoid doing it again in some other place, simply because we failed to examine all the alternative means of resolving conflict.” And this applies not just to war.
Research from Uppsala University, Sweden shows that the degree of equality between men and women in a society is strongly associated with peace. Individuals who have the most positive attitudes towards equality between the sexes in society are also less inclined to use violence, as well as less likely to support war like foreign policies, or torture of suspected terrorists. Children in more equal societies do not learn that oppression is normal. I quote from an Uppsala University press release: “The norms that all humans have equal rights and that violence is a last resort rather than something honourable and a natural way of settling differences are critical to how peaceful a society becomes and these norms change in a peaceful direction as a consequence of improved gender equity.”[7] We may see ourselves as a peaceful state but for the two thousand or so victims of domestic and other violence there is no peace.
To a certain extent my life was defined by war.  I was conceived in Kashmir, India, in January 1947. India was then in the throes of the struggle for independence. My father, a British, Sandhurst trained military officer was a Colonel of the 16th Punjab Regiment of the Bristish/Indian Army based in Lahore in what is now Pakistan.  My mother had lived in Lahore, since the age of three when her father had been reported missing in action, presumed dead, in WW1. Having survived the war, my parents found themselves caught up in the bitter communal conflict, in an India that, understandably, wanted to be free from Colonial rule; a nightmare of unsurpassable horror, violence and terror, a bewildering frenzy of unreasoned savagery and spontaneous irrational slaughter.
Partitioning India was a decision made by a few powerful people. Even Ghandi could not stop it. It caused an immediate mass migration of millions of displaced people of differing tongues, cultures and religions, igniting a mania for murder unforseen in its magnitude and an arms race between India and Pakistan that continues to this day. Only the other day the violence in Lahore took over 70 lives.  All in all an estimated one million people died. Freedom at Midnight and India’s tryst with destiny was no less than that for our family. It left us in a stateless position.  Amidst the violence and under cover of darkness of night my mother, pregnant with me and with three other children under the age of eight made the perilous trip by train, to board the Empress of Scotland, back to England where I was born 8 weeks later. I was named Frances, by my mother, a convert to Catholicism; Frances the patron saint of peace, the peace she craved.   In 1948 the decision was made to immigrate to the North West Coast Tasmania, to take up farming, as so many did, as an antidote to war. And it was.
There is something symbolic and therapeutic about farming and gardening; it is an intensely actively rewarding pursuit to cultivate, tend and grow new life; nurture and nourish beauty and provide the conditions for plants to flourish. My hope is that this garden will bring nourishment; physical, mental and emotional enrichment to those who visit. And perhaps those who do visit might like to reflect on how they can contribute to establishing the optimal environment for human potential to flourish in the nourishing soil of good government, fair distribution of resources, high levels of education or human capital, low levels of corruption, free flow of information, good relations with neighbours, acceptance of the rights of others, a good business environment and strategies for conflict resolution.  Identified by the Institute of Economics and Peace, these so called pillars of peace are the foundational structures, attitudes and institutions, that move society towards resolving conflict in a non violent way and which when strengthened lead to a more peaceful society. The Institute, is dedicated to shifting the world’s focus to peace as a positive and achievable measure of human well being and has made it their business to provide high quality data to help inform government policy on reducing violence and increasing peace. The institute was ranked this year in the world’s 15 most impactful think tanks with a budget below US 5 million.
There are those who believe that issues of war and peace should be left only to the experts in the business of defence, a view not shared by the Institute of Economics and Peace.  It aims to engage civil society with issues related to peace, security and social justice. Because we tend to value what can be measured, the Institute of Peace and Economics aims to define peace, understand its causes and measure its economic value, as a public good.  The Institute’s message, says founder philanthropist Steve Killelia AM, is that greater peacefulness increases the size of markets and helps companies make more money. By quantifying how much violence costs and whether it is rising or falling, governments have more incentive to act. [8] The Institute has produced some sobering statistics:
• In 2014 the economic impact of global violence reached a total of US 14.3 trillion or 13.4 of world Gross Domestic Product
• The world’s expenditure on the military is more than 12 times the expenditure on foreign aid.
• Last year 20,000 people were killed in terrorists attacks up from 2,000 ten years ago
• Globally, the intensity of internal armed conflict has increased with the number of people killed in conflicts rising over 3.5 times from 49,000 in 2010 to 180,000 in 2014. [9]
The Global challenges facing humanity today, call for global solutions and this requires cooperation on a scale unparalleled in human history. Peace is the prerequisite, because without peace we will be unable to achieve the levels of cooperation, inclusiveness and social equity necessary to solve problems such as climate change, sustainability, global poverty, and the health crisis.[10]
Surely then we all have, as our late Governor urged, a duty to actively strive for peace on a daily basis; the peace that our soldiers thought they were fighting for and continue to do so; the peace so many died for and continue to do so; the peace their families suffered for and continue to do so; the peace that relates directly to me and you and the quality with which we all live our lives; the peace that is a public good.  The peace that is in everyone’s self interest.
“Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”
I sincerely thank Jean Hearn, Jo Archer all those who have contributed to this project and, together with the Underwood family, am honored to declare the Peter Underwood Peace Garden Open.
— Frances Underwood, April 2016

[1] Cox, Robert  Give peace a true blue chance   The Mercury  29 March 2016

[2] Grant, Lynley Talking Point The Mercury 17 March 2016

[3] Atkinson, Max   Waging a war to end all warsThe Mercury 19 Aug 2014

[4] Underwood, Peter    AZAC Day Address 2014

[5] ibid

[6] Atkinson, Max Waging a war to end all wars, The Mercury 19 Aug 2014

[7] www.uu.se

[8]  www.companydirecors.com.au Company Director February 2015

[9]  Institute of Economics and Peace www.economicsandpeace.org

[10] Killelea, Steve www.companydirecors.com.au Company Director Feb 2015