my contempt for the sunburnt country

I hate unsubstantiated patriotism. National holidays like Australia Day seem to exist for no other reason than to incite a certain demographic to demonstrate their regard for king and country through donning the relevant flag, adorning themselves with the obligatory southern cross tattoo and drinking beyond excess. Meanwhile, they alternate between sitting, scantily clad, in a toddler’s long suffering wading pool and meandering the streets in a parade of obnoxious and deviant exhibitionism, seemingly mistaking their ignorant and racist chants and exclamations for national pride.

I am very much aware that this stance makes me entirely unpopular with the overwhelming majority, but I can’t help it; when I hear expressions of blind loyalty for the motherland, I cringe involuntarily, and if pressed, I am forced to admit that, actually, I have a lot of beefs with Australia. I can’t help but feel as if we’re being cheated somehow.

It’s quite perturbing that, whether he be the dinky die, double plugged, singlet wearing yokel in the pub, or the white collared businessman, buffing his virgin 4WD in the suburbs, the typical Australian can’t actually articulate what it is that he likes so much about the country he claims to vehemently admire. Instead, it’s somehow acceptable to simply stammer some meaningless gibberish about being ‘lucky’ and ‘free’, and as long as you make a vague references to the ‘Australian Spirit’ your efforts will be immediately met by gregarious applause and slaps on the backside. On the whole, we’re fairly eager to big up Australia, but what I’m wondering is, why should we?

Don’t misunderstand me; I am more than aware that as citizens of Australia, we’re relatively blessed. I mean, we can walk down the street at any given time and, depending on the neighbourhood in which we choose to dwell, we can expect not to be accosted by gun fire. Further, we have sewage, sanitation and clean water, and these are all good things. I also enjoy that there are supermarkets where we can purchase produce which, to all intents and purposes, appears fresh, and that the majority of us can boast having homes in which to live and cars that we can drive. Also, our stats suggest we’re better than America, and since we seem to rate them so highly, that’s got to be worth something. But ironically, it’s these exact fortunate circumstances that cause Australians to be easily amongst the most politically lethargic citizens in the world.

The truth is that the typical Australian has absolutely no interest in the political ups and downs that are shaping our country and are more informed and involved with the formation of the teams that have made it into the football grand final than the campaign leading up to any given federal election. In fact, due to a combination of ignorance and lack of interest, Australians have so little faith in the value of their vote, that they can be persuaded to exchange them for gifts. Call me a cynic, but being offered tangible goods in the lead up to voting day, screams bribery. But instead of wondering what shortfalls in the parties’ policies might have lead them to earn public support through the offering of material produce, like a child to the vacant parent who has skipped the last several access visits but comes bearing gifts, we approach them, hearts and palms open. Sure, we’ll blame them later when their bandaids prove useless against the sting of betrayal, but until the wheels fall off, we are content.

I get it that everyone can’t be described as politically lethargic. In fact, some people care very much. But why is it that, generally speaking, we couldn’t care less about our country’s leadership and the choices they make on our behalf? Why do we choose to remain uninformed? Why is it that we opt to vote above the line, simply to avoid having to spend an extra few minutes in the polling booth?

Fellow Australians: until we begin en masse to take an active interest in the decisions being made on our behalf by our government, we will be neither a free nor lucky nation. As we sit back, sipping our foreign owned, iconic Australian beers, and boasting unreservedly as to our privileged lifestyle, the cost of living is being needlessly hiked up around our armpits, our soldiers are being sent to fuel wars that are not our own, natural resources are being recklessly harvested, with no serious consideration as to their sustainability and the average wage is being reduced. Meanwhile, the decision makers and those with stakes in the big money are rewarding themselves with yet another pay rise. It may surprise you to know that the Australian ‘lifestyle’ we value so highly is amongst the most expensive in the western world. And there is no logical reason for this.

Instead of pointing an inactive finger in accusation at the government, it is time to admit some fault; it’s the laidback, lackadaisical Australian ethos that we know and love that is allowing the politicians to turn our country into their personal economy in order to satisfy their own agendas. We’ve allowed ourselves to develop such an inherent trust and obedience in authority that we don’t even think to look up once in a while to check what they’re doing with our things. It stopped being a government for the people a long time ago, but we only have ourselves to blame; we didn’t even notice.

So let’s take back the country of which you’re all so fond and transform it into something that might make us feel genuinely proud. This will not happen as a result of vague romantic sentiments that glorify the Australian spirit, but rather through our actions. To paraphrase a democrat, it really is time we started keeping them bastards honest.



8 thoughts on “my contempt for the sunburnt country

  1. I don’t know if a Government ever existed to benefit “the people” and I’m not sure that there will ever be enough push to sway a Government into acting on behalf of “the people”. I’d like to think so… and hope that one day, when I pay a tax to fix our roads and/or a tax to contribute to parks and landscape, that I actually see the affects of this. Or on a greater scale be able to contribute to the decision as to whether I can get married or not – and not leave this up to a room full of hypocrites and ignorant arseholes – because we all know how this should be a decision a Government panel makes. But… I’m not up for the death penalty because of my sexuality and I’m not shot down in the street because I want to vote against the current Government…. so what the heck, why shouldn’t we have a drink to that! And that obligatory tattoo I’m wearing permanently everyday for the rest of my life is to remind me of the beautiful country that I love, as cliche as it may be. There is always room for improvement, but there is also room for recognition that Australia has grown – although not yet perfect. I admire your passion for your beliefs, your roots are coming through.

    • It can’t be denied that governments, in some way or another, are always going to be acting on their own behalf, rather than that of their people. It’s sad to think you might be right; that there won’t ever be enough push to force the government into acting more ethically, or with our best interests in mind. In other countries this certainly isn’t the case, though I suppose things had to grow more dire for them before they began to take to the streets and fight for their rights. Certainly we need a louder voice; if a couple wishes to get married for instance, regardless of their sex, who is the leadership to say this shouldn’t be permitted? They’re supposed to represent us, after all.
      I can certainly see your point regarding the celebration of basic freedoms, but I suppose my argument would be that since we are a first world nation, and those things are a given (thankfully), why aren’t we pushing for things to be better? It just makes me sad to watch as our rights and the quality of our public services are slowly yet consistently stripped away; so gradually that we don’t even realize it’s happening. I don’t think people properly recognize this, as we are so optimistic and happy to consider what we do have. I think the government takes advantage of this aspect of our culture. As you say, Australia has come a long way. But the problem is, it should be growing. It is not; it is moving backwards.
      You’re right; Australia is a beautiful country. When I talk about my disdain for the place, I’m not talking about the geography or the people, who are mainly delightful. I’m talking about our leadership and the way that our easygoing attitude allows them to treat us so badly.

  2. a well constructed piece. let’s face it our government doesn’t work. it is all based on personal gratifications that are being sought after so heartily by politicians, not because they are politicians but because they are humans. it is a basic human instinct to be greedy we are shown that everyday. the issue is that while we, as a people, don’t like it we are also filled with top quality, middle class, first world fear, namely fear of the unknown. so we don’t really do anything. we’re kind of happy to pay high taxes and watch pollies squander it all because it is better the devil you know, right?

    we point that finger in order to feel that, or perhaps it is better to say, create the illusion that we are doing something, and we embrace the idea of a free Australia because it allows us to shut our eyes to how it really is, we have no control.

    and so fear keeps us inactive, strangely the only thing in this world which will make this nation, as a nation, stand up and take some action to reclaim and improve itself is also fear. im not just talking aboutif they take that mans 4wd or tell that bloke in the pub that VB is $10 a midy. im talking about water rates, electricity, food, try telling people that these things are no longer a right, they will stand up, hell they’ll get down right dangerous.

  3. Thanks for linking up to the Love Politics Blogs Showcase. I think you can see the same level of apathy in a lot of relatively prosperous societies. It seems like everything is ‘fine’ so there’s no motivation to think about what we might still do to improve things. It sounds like Australia Day is much like St George’s Day over here. I’ve got no problem with the idea of celebrating things that are good about England but too often its just used by certain groups in society as an excuse to get drunk and to stir up resentment between communities. The resulting news coverage rarely makes me feel proud to be British.

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