My dream is that one day, maybe a century from now, Australia will be a Commonwealth of united people, diverse in religion, politics and cultural background perhaps, but ONE in co-operation on moral and commonsense behaviour. I expect it to evolve as Britain did, as Celts, Angles, Romans, Saxons, Jutes, Danes, and Normans in turn invaded and mingled with earlier populations to breed a more or less homogenous race we know as the British.
The first step in attaining unity, I calculate, would be to disengage from the British. Our first people have no ties to Britain, and many, probably most, migrants who have come in the last twenty years have no ties, no loyalty to Britain. They are Australian, but not British. Having a British monarch as Head of State is therefore an irrelevance to them. I suggest we remove the Union Jack from our flag as a first symbolic step in the right direction. The Southern Cross is meaningful to all of us. We live under it. Our first peoples revered it, some tribes as a guardian in the skies, some as a giant iguana or stingray, or assorted creatures, but they all used it as a navigation point, from the time thousands of years ago when they travelled here in canoes, to when they went walkabout from one region to another in the land. To later Australians, the display of the flag of The Southern Cross at the rebellion at Eureka Stockade signified a demand for democracy. The Southern Cross is extremely significant to us all.
The so-called Aboriginal flag divides us, and it is not a genuine Aboriginal flag. Flags were a foreign concept to the original Australians. The flag now displayed as being Aboriginal was created by a half-Caucasian, who even demands copyright on it, in antithesis to the Aboriginal principle of sharing.
The second symbolic gesture I would make would be to request of the sovereign of Britain that (s)he return sovereignty of the land we know as Australia to its first people. Queen Victoria annexed it; it is up to her descendant to return it to us.
We could have a hereditary monarch. (S)he would be selected by nomination by the public, much as we now nominate Australian of the Year. A selection panel, (chosen by the British sovereign, because (s)he could confer royalty, and because (s)he would be impartial in choosing,) would sort through the nominations and select ten. The Australian people would then vote for their Australian sovereign from among the ten. I think it only fitting that those selected for final vote should have Aboriginal heritage. This would give Aborigines a celebrated voice in the Constitution. (More on this later.)
I have been ridiculed for this suggestion, even officially classed as insane, but it is quite rational and very tidy. I think many Australians would like a royal family, and it would save the expense and inconvenience of having to have an election every few years for another President. Only the monarch would receive remuneration from the taxpayers of course. Other members of the royal family would have to work for a living.
I would also change our dirge of a National Anthem to something more inspiring with which all Australians can identify. We are not “fair”, either in skin colour or in justice to our first people. Government should call for suggestions and have a selected panel choose from among them, and give the people a final vote.
I know many are crying for Aborigines to have a voice in the Constitution, but they already have it. They have the right to vote. What they do not have is the education and pizzaz to use their votes wisely. Full-bloods are the ones who are oppressed. The ones crying out for a voice are mostly half-bloods and less, who already have a voice, are often not discriminated against, and some of them simply have their eye on self-advancement. There are a few genuine sympathisers among them, which confuses the issue. I maintain that the best way to help the marginalized is to break down the margins. A part-Aboriginal sovereign would do wonders in breaking down the margins.
We need to develop the regions too, to break down the margins. Education alone will not help Aborigines exercise their vote. They need physical and mental well-being. For that they need jobs, homes, hospitals, planes and trains, roads, retail shops. They need what “white people” have. The young need skate parks, swimming pools, cinemas, football and cricket fields, places to go and things to do other than joy-riding in stolen cars. “White” youth have these things. Aboriginal youth, in their one pub, one shop, one street, one primary school, no hospital shanty towns, are deprived. Of course they will get up to mischief. The devil finds work for idle hands to do.
There is a myth that Aborigines like to live rough in humpies or under trees. The truth is that they do not know how to effectively use the appliances we in the first world of Australia are familiar with. They need to be taught how to use them.
To illustrate my point: on my first night in Europe, in a four star hotel in Zurich, I could not fathom how to use the plumbing over the shower. Too proud to display my ignorance I sponge-bathed at the sink.
Aborigines are not stupid, as some would think. Those of them who have not mastered English are at a handicap because though they think and feel as deeply as you or I, they do not “know how to say it.” They need to learn English to be empowered, but we must respect their languages first for that to happen willingly.
Half-bloods presume much, but they often impose Caucasian ideas and values on their half-kin. I oppose the term “First Nation”. The Aborigines were never a nation. Nor did they exist here from time immemorial. If we are going to indulge in truth-telling let us tell the whole truth. They were originally migrants, like those of us who followed. They dispersed through the land and settled in tribes with different languages and customs. They were not noble savages. They had bloody tribal wars, and they married off female children as soon as they were nubile. We do them a disservice when we paint them as totally virtuous, and also when we place them in the category of victims. Being categorized as a victim disempowers one.
My personal sentiments are that if we empower our first people we empower all of the nation. We can then see our way to uniting all the cosmos of migrants to Australia, and perhaps inviting New Zealand and other Pacific Islands to join our Commonwealth of Australasia.
All of this is getting the cart before the horse. Before it is all possible we have to have a majority of Independents in Parliament to vote for such changes. Let’s start the process now. I am too old to consider standing for Parliament myself. I am seventy-six. We need younger blood.