Bruce Ruxton AM OBE
Ruxton enlisted in the Australian Army on 22 February 1944 and served in the Second World War in the South West Pacific Area, the Netherlands East Indies and Balikpapan in Borneo, and for three years he served in Japan with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force, as a rifleman in the 2/25 Australian Infantry Battalion of the 7th Division. He was discharged on 12 January 1949 at the rank of Private.
After his war service, he became a vocal spokesman on behalf of war veterans and their families, ensuring they received their pensions and entitlements. As the Second World War veterans grew older, he lobbied on their behalf regarding issues such as nursing homes and retirement accommodation.
In 1975 he received the MBE, the OBE in 1981, the AM in 1996, and in 1997 the Chevalier of Order of Merit from Jacques Chirac. Also he received the Légion d'honneur.
Following two years of ill-health due to viral pneumonia contracted during a visit to Boer War sites Ruxton resigned from the RSL in June 2002. Along with RSL National President, Brigadier Alf Garland, Ruxton was a staunch opponent of the Multifunction Polis (MFP), a Japanese funded technology city proposed in 1987 for the north of Adelaide. Ruxton said it would become "a Jap City".
In 1980 Ruxton achieved national media coverage with his strong criticism of the Northcote City Council in Victoria, after strongly left-wing Councillors supported a number of policies that were anathema to those traditionally held by the RSL. These included the flying of the Eureka flag rather than the Australian flag from the Northcote Town Hall, and support for an Australian republic. Ruxton claimed 'ethnics and anti-British elements' were responsible for a lack of patriotism. Ruxton was also incensed at the refusal of Scottish-born Councillor Brian Sanaghan to renew his oath of allegiance to the Queen after being re-elected to the Northcote Council in 1980. Pressure from Ruxton resulted in Sanaghan's place on the Council being declared vacant, for Sanaghan was attending and voting at meetings of the Council's ALP Caucus while not permitted to vote at meetings of the Council itself as he had not taken the oath. Sanaghan later served as an electorate officer for Phil Cleary, who was for a short time a Member of the Australian House of Representatives for the Division of Wills.
Equally notorious was Ruxton's designation of Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu as a 'witch doctor' during the latter's visit to Victoria in 1986, an outburst he later acknowledged that he regretted.
In the 1998 Constitutional Convention for the Republic he represented monarchist group Safeguard the People. On 31 January 1992, Ruxton stated that the RSL and its membership: "will never agree to this country becoming a republic. We are proud to be associated with the Queen, who is our patron, and who, as this country's head of State, has never once put a foot wrong. Show me a politician with such a record." Ruxton has consistently argued that the Australian flag and the Queen, as our head of state, guarantee that Australia will remain a free democracy, and that a republican form of government in Australia could become totalitarian.
In 1991, Ruxton appeared on the Nine Network's Midday television show with host Ray Martin, to advocate Australia remaining a monarchy, in a live televised debate with singer Normie Rowe and radio broadcaster Ron Casey. The debate got out of hand, with Normie Rowe and Ron Casey physically brawling on live TV. The following day, Ruxton said: "As for Ron Casey, he deserved a good punch in the nose. He certainly did not do his cause any good. We have enough problems to fix up without arguing and fighting over whether Australia should become a republic."