Australia, a work in progress

flag_index_250“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.

9 thoughts on “Australia, a work in progress”

  1. No probs, zoot.

    The ABC has replayed Richard Fidler’s interview with Stan Grant, done back in 2013 when he’d just returned to Australia.

    Talking clearly comes easily to Grant. He goes into great detail about all the tough and negative experiences he and his family endured, but in relaxed good humour. He’s seen poverty, suffering and hunger in other countries and reckons Australia is a terrific place to be. He thinks the place is improving in its overt racism in everyday life.

    I think he is a very good debater!

  2. Them being constitutional monarchies may clash with Brians first.
    Their flags being religious symbols in the royal family colours may clash with Brians second.

    Don’t know about their constitutions but I’m pretty sure they recognise all citizens, just like ours does now. Whether or not they single out any particular race, I don’t know.

  3. Jumpy, if you’d read the link you would have seen:

     What Scandinavians call the Nordic model is a smart and simple system that starts with a deep commitment to equality and democracy.


    … a system that makes capitalism more or less cooperative, and then redistributes equitably the wealth it helps to produce.

    It’s got nothing to do with flags or constitutional monarchies.

  4. Jumpy: The Australian flag includes the crosses of St George, St Patrick and St Andrew so Aus is well up on the religious symbols.
    The Nordic model seems to have done very well over the years in terms of both economic performance and social justice. What is there to not like?

  5. Zoot
    Sorry, when you said

    I’d suggest a fourth thing we could do to become a grown-up country;

    you were adding to Brians list;

    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.

    which had a lot to do with flags and monarchies.

    Was I mistaken ?


    What is there to not like?

    I’m not that worried but some may take issue with the amount of fossil fuel that props up 2 of em.

  6. Please accept my humblest apologies Jumpy.
    I didn’t realise that when you responded to my comment it was actually meant as a response to Brian’s comment.
    In future I’ll try to read your mind more accurately.

Comments are closed.