I don’t get the patriotism bug very often, though the Ashes Series gives one a good excuse and is also far more sensible than much that has been going on here lately. However, I revisited the good Sir William Deane’s Centenary Of Federation Speech last night and it went to where I live, if you know what I mean. We could all stand to consider this yardstick and measure our subsequent promise or decline.
The opening words of the national anthem we have just sung tell us to rejoice. And so we should. For we have much to celebrate as we recall the coming together, exactly one hundred years ago today, of the six Australian colonies to “be one people”.
We all remember our gratitude and pride in Australia during the recent Olympic and Paralympic Games. We bring that same grateful pride to this celebration of our nation’s 100th birthday.
Grateful pride in the land itself: this matchless continent, its islands, its surrounding seas. For those of us who love this “wide brown land”, there is nowhere else on earth that comes even close to its ancient majesty, its mystery, its varied beauty and its sheer wonder.
Grateful pride in the commitment to democracy under the rule of law, which created our nation and which has deepened down the century. We have sealed it by sacrifice in war. We have maintained it tenaciously in peace. Few other nations can look back on a century of democratic rule, unbroken by dictatorship, military coup, civil war or conquest.
And, above all, grateful pride in our Australian people who, as our Constitution makes plain, are our nation. All those who have been and are Australian. And what they were and are: their decency, their generosity, their sense of fair play; their spirit of ANZAC.
And their mutual respect and acceptance which underlie our greatest achievement, namely, the way we are making our diversity, of origin, race, culture and belief, a source of national strength and unity rather than a cause of weakness and division.
So let us rejoice and be grateful for all the achievements of our past and for this day.
At the same time, let us be honest and courageous about the failures and flaws which mar those achievements and which together we can address and overcome.
The damage we have done to the land, its rivers and coasts, notwithstanding our love of its beauty.
The unacceptable gap between the haves and the have-nots, in this the land of the “fair-go” for all.
How far we still have to travel on our journey towards genuine reconciliation between Australiaís indigenous peoples and the nation of which they form such a vital part.
Conscious of all these things, let us re-dedicate Australia to the ideal of unity, under freedom, democracy and the rule of law, which brought our Commonwealth into being, one hundred years ago.
And, in this Centennial Park, on the ancestral land and meeting place of the Eora, Cadagal and Tharawal [Dharawal] peoples, let us look to the future, and dream of what it might hold for our nation.
Let us walk together into that future with honesty, vision and determination, with Australian generosity of spirit, and with Australian goodwill and fair play.
Thereby we will truly, in the best and fullest sense, “Advance Australia Fair”.
I suspect we all need to revisit that.
Decent: The report in today’s Sun-Herald Tide has turned as Muslim lifesavers start training in burqinis.
Indecent: The reported tactics of an increasingly desperate and bankrupt (perhaps literally) NSW Labor Party in the coming election. See Now it’s personal: Iemma’s strategy to hurt Debnam. I carry no torch for Debnam either. Looks as if Clover Moore (Independent) will get my vote. If Labor goes with that style of campaigning they should be so rewarded with voter revulsion that no-one dares use the tactic again. Let’s hope so. Also indecent, in my opinion, has been our continuing inability to distinguish allegations from facts in the ongoing storm over alleged Labor sleazebags, but Labor can hardly complain, can they?
It’s not Cricket, people, not at all…
I urge you all to remain polite with Kevin on that conversation post, but have to say he has revealed views and attitudes which I find quite distressing, and actually make me quite glad I am not an American; I am sure that was not his intention, nor do I question his character as a person. Fortunately the US government is likely to take a different path now. I would call it a saner path, as their trip into Rambo-style fantasy has not really done wonders in the War on Terror.
John Howard’s unwillingness to add 2+2 to get 4 after the recent US elections beggars belief still, and Ruddock’s refusal to hear Major Mori told you far more about Ruddock than it did about Mori’s presentation or the position of the combined states attorneys general.
To al-Qaeda and any sympathisers out there. Far from demonstrating a marvellous victory for your warped version of Islam, recent events in the USA demonstrate for all to see the greater value, morally socially and intellectually, for all its faults, of what the best aspects of America offer the world of the 21st century in contrast to what you have to offer.
To Americans. Distinguish between what you have that is worth fighting for and what you must fight against in yourselves. Behave with due humility, allowing that not everyone in the world wants to be as you are, and that this certainty is not itself a threat to world peace. The world is and always has been and always will be a multicultural place; world citizens of the 21st century have to live with that in mutual respect and harmony. The alternative is just too awful to contemplate.
To everyone. Embrace the view that all of us have complex identities and loyalties. Reject deadly identities that feed off the blood of “the other”.
Decency recovering? See Labor denies smear campaign. Let’s hope so. Even if the story the Sun-Herald published on its front page this morning has merely produced a pragmatic rethink, it’s for the better.
I have just signed this. I recommend it to my fellow Australians.