Bruce Carlyle Ruxton, AM, OBE (6 February 1926 – 23 December 2011) was an Australian ex-serviceman and President of the Victorian Returned and Services League from 1979 to 2002.
Ruxton grew up in Kew, Victoria. He attended Melbourne High School.
Ruxton enlisted in the Australian Army on 22 February 1944, and was employed as a company cook. He served in World War II 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 but was not promoted beyond the rank of Private.
Representing the war veterans
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.
Following two years of ill-health due to viral pneumonia contracted during a visit to Boer War sites, Ruxton resigned as President of the Victorian 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.
Ruxton's referred to the Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu as a "witch doctor" during Tutu's visit to Victoria in 1986, an outburst he later acknowledged 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 the Australian 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," (despite the fact it was Casey who punched Rowe, not the other way round).
In 1998, Ruxton wrote a letter to Shock Records regarding the TISM single "I Might Be a Cunt, but I'm Not a Fucking Cunt". In it, he referred to the single "dropping (Australia)'s standards into the proverbial sewer".
A character originally from Australia You're Standing In It (and later in Fast forward), Bruce Rump, was based on him. Bruce Rump would rant in a voice similar to Ruxton's, sometimes reaching a violent frenzy and ending with the non-sequitur "... and that's why we should keep the bloody flag the same!" The send ups of Bruce Rump would often also be send ups of long running Australian children's TV series Romper Room, referred to as "Rumper Room".
Ruxton made fun of himself by releasing a rap single, in which he lampooned his own persona. A song by Melbourne punk band Res-Heads was named after Ruxton.
In 1975 he was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), an Officer of the Order (OBE) in 1981, and a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 1996. In 1997 he was appointed a Chevalier of the Order of Merit by Jacques Chirac. He was also appointed a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour.
He died on 23 December 2011, following the development of dementia. He was 85. His funeral service included a Masonic tribute as well as full RSL honours.