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World War I, cane toads top list of Australian blunders

AUSTRALIA: Australia's naivety in World War I and a self-inflicted plague of toads top the list of worst stuff-ups in the country's history, a new book proclaimed Thursday.

The forced removal of Aboriginal children by the government and church missions during the "stolen generation" of the 1930s to the 1970s also featured among Australia's worst errors of judgment and historical tragedies as detailed in "The Great Mistakes of Australian History".

The book's editor, University of Queensland history lecturer Martin Crotty, said the blunders were picked to teach Australians to avoid future mistakes, Australian Associated Press reported.

Alongside the unintended explosion in cane toads after their introduction to combat beetles in cane crops, the book includes the farming of unfertile land with unreliable rainfall as a major disaster.

However, Crotty said the naive militarism displayed during World War I, which cost Australia 60,000 lives and wounded 150,000 men, was the country's greatest gaffe.

"World War I just cost us so much in so many ways," he said. "It resulted in incredible suffering among the soldiers and it just about tore Australian society apart."

Crotty said the book showed the importance of recognising the bad, as well as the good.

"It is as well to remember that we can completely stuff things up, it's a good lesson in humility."

Sydney, Friday, AFP

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