“Playing and protesting”, that was the headline on the TV news as to how Australia spent its national day.
My brother and his wife hosted a street party where people hailed recently from seven different overseas countries. Yesterday one of my wife’s clients said she knew Aborigines who would just close their doors and cry.
I’d like to comment on the Australian of the Year awards and a speech that went viral.
The headlines have emphasised that David Morrison, former Army chief, was given the top honour for gender equality work.
There has been criticism that he was just doing his job, and wouldn’t a woman be a better choice to advocate for gender equality? After all the full list of finalists (scroll down) included the NSW finalist, former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick.
Morrison is now retired and is involved in three or four organisations, including chair of the Diversity Council, Australia. He’s arguing for diversity, for a better deal for victims, for the oppressed, for indigenous peoples and specifically against domestic violence. In other words, he wants a diverse, inclusive, civilised and caring society. And he wants a republic.
I wouldn’t comment on his merits against the other finalists because I haven’t been part of the selection process. Very simply, I don’t have all the relevant information.
So I wish him well. Ita Buttrose who got the gong in 2013 told the ABC that you get zero help in the role, but everyone suddenly wants a piece of you.
Another event, not strictly related to Australia Day, but very relevant to what it means to be Australian, was the speech by Stan Grant last October as part of an IQ2 Debate (Intelligence Squared) on the proposition Racism is Destroying the Australian Dream. Grant is Guardian Australia’s Indigenous affairs editor. The speech was released last Friday and by Sunday night had gone viral on Facebook with 850,000 views and 28,000 shares, and had been watched more than 50,000 times on YouTube.
The media commentator and writer, Mike Carlton, described Grant’s address as Australia’s “Martin Luther King moment”.
If I can quote my brother, who sent me the link:
- At the very least, Grant’s 8 minute speech is an astonishingly powerful statement of one Australian aboriginal person’s lived familial experience and IMHO, is up there with the great speeches of national importance to our country.
The debate was part of a series held by the Ethics Centre, chaired by Simon Longstaff. Grant joined immigration lawyer Pallavi Sinha to form the team for the positive. Herald Sun columnist Rita Panahi and Australian actor Jack Thompson took the negative, but Thompson twisted the argument so that he virtually argued for the other side. Basically he said that it was not ‘racism’ but the ‘denial of racism’ that destroying the Australian dream, and it was not a dream, it was an illusion.
The whole tape lasts just under an hour and includes some very interesting interaction with the audience.
I think we need to do at least three things before we become a proper grown-up country. We need to become a republic, we need to get rid of our ridiculous flag featuring the flag of our colonial masters, and we need to recognise original Australians in the constitution.
Meanwhile Australia is not a bad place to be.