45. DEFINING A “DINKUM AUSSIE”

Defining a “dinkum Aussie” is now an impossible task. We are so multi-cultural that there can be no stereo-typical Australian. However, what we expect by way of Australian values is concrete. Any person wishing to become an Australian citizen surely values freedom, democracy, and a fair go for all.

Freedom for oneself and one’s own lifestyle should not impinge on the freedoms of others. That is not a fair go for all. Vilification laws and unfair dismissal laws should be enough to protect people against hate speech and discrimination that damages one’s lifestyle and livelihood.

I believe employers should have the right to employ only team members who will be compatible with the rest of the team. In order to encourage employment of folk who might otherwise be discriminated against, government should use carrots of financial subsidy, not sticks of legislation or other legal channels.

To return to what makes a “dinkum Aussie”, I find that we are becoming too fault-finding, too whingeing, too wimpy. Once we were largely of British stock, with a stiff upper lip, and a dash of laconic Irish. We are no longer British, no longer white Anglo-Saxon, and no longer dominantly male. A touchiness has crept in, and with it unnecessary legislation to protect some people at the expense of others.

We are European, Asian, Pacific Island, even African, and our small indigenous population, finally receiving some care, is growing too. The cultural groups are mingling with reasonable speed. Second generation Australians develop an Australian flavour to their lifestyles. Hopefully time will knock off the edges of touchiness along with any lack of acceptance of “difference” among cultures.

One thing we should not be comfortable about is the lowering of labour standards. Once Aussies scorned to be servants. Even ex-convicts became independent. We fought for and won a fair wage for all, the right hammered out under Barcaldine’s Tree of Knowledge. Now we have turned to the European style of living where hospitality workers are the servants of much wealthier patrons, and depend somewhat on “tips” to augment their low wages.

We have fought for and won unemployment benefits to help the unfortunate who cannot obtain work, an aid that many countries do not have. I am disgusted with the present Liberal government which panders to the wealthy and big-time employers and gives minimal financial help to the unemployed who have no job through no fault of their own. It then puts all responsibility for finding work on the under-financed under-resourced unemployed. We need to go back in history here, to what Australians fought for over a century ago, a fair go for all.

In face of the arrogance of upper-class Liberals, Labor is not nominating a sum which would constitute a just basic wage, or a sum which would constitute a fair unemployment benefit. Labor is hedging its bets in the hope that it will continue to have the backing of big business. The time when Labor was the light on the hill, or had fire in its belly, died with the political assassination of Bob Hawke. Integrity in politics and the notion that politicians were the servants of the people, died with John Howard. Keating, the first of the new-style politicians, grasped power with both hands, not to serve the people, but to serve Paul Keating. He gave us the recession he manipulated us into believing we had to have, which, I point out, had no effect on his financial standing.
All economics is manipulation. Inflation, recession, unemployment, are all factored into the economy to serve industry. We need to go back to the drawing board. The politicians and the upper class have manipulated the working class into the position of servants of the economy and the politicians, instead of the other way around. We need a new economy, one which benefits all with equity.

We, the people, should vigorously reject the label of “dole bludgers”. It is the politicians, with their ever-so-brief sittings of Parliament each year, who are the true bludgers.
We are too apathetic about our rights. We need to stand up and fight as we once did. If we are okay, Jack, we tend to let things slide. We need to fight for our mates as well as ourselves. All is not well. There are countless unemployed. There are numerous homeless people who, having no fixed address, have no vote. We need to speak for them.

We are smothered in rules. We need to overturn them. Legally. There is a Federal election coming up early next year. We could start a legal revolution by standing as Independents in Federal Parliament, and voting for Independents who will fight for our rights against the “upper class” which is ruling the roost, pulling the strings of the political parties.

We are not all sons of convicts and Irish rebels, but I hope we’ve all inherited enough of their spirit to realize it is time to give a fair go to all Australians. As our First Australians would say, we all belong to Dreaming. We are ONE. Exercise your right to vote, your right to stand for Parliament. Bring justice to the down-trodden of our society. Let’s OVERTHROW THE STATUS QUO. Bring the arrogant upper class of uncaring wealthy and politicians down to an equitable level.

 

THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE

(Written before the Tree of Knowledge was poisoned and died. Maybe that was an omen.)

Barcaldine way, where ghost gums sway,
A ghost gum stands where shearer bands
Met to fight – a shearers’ strike
Against the Powers-That-Be,
Rebelled against bureaucracy
Underneath the Knowledge Tree.
The law had ruled their wages cruelled,
A cut unjust of hard-earned cash.
They wouldn’t stand for law of land
Passing a bill against their will.
Aussies true-blue, the shearers knew
Wrong from right, and though the might
Of law prevails, it finally fails
If it’s unjust. Justice must.
The shearers swore to fight the law,
And gathered round with thoughts profound
Under the Tree of Knowledge, free
Men and bold, and history told
How they formed under the Tree, the A.L.P.,
To change the law forever more,
So Australians all might be
Free to carve their destiny,
Earn fair wage or salary.
Still the Tree of Knowledge stands,
Monument to all the lands
Of justice in Australia fair
And victory to workers there.

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