January 26 is Australia Day. It’s meant to be a day of national celebration and pride, and sure, we’ve got a lot to celebrate. But I think there’s not enough time spent during Australia Day reflecting what’s wrong with the nation, and what we need to fix. So today, rather than talking about proud I am to be an Australian, I’m going to talk about the things that are quite the opposite. In no particular order, here we go:
- I am a second class citizen. This is the 14th year my partner and I have been living together. Yet a newly married couple who have just finished signing their names in some marriage book have more legal rights than the my partner and I. Why? Because my partner and I are of the same sex. We can’t adopt, we can’t marry, we’ve only recently been able to share public health benefits, and there’s a raft of other areas where we are legally discriminated against.
- Notwithstanding the apology to the stolen generations issued a while ago, Australia’s history is rife with disgusting treatment of the original Aboriginal population. Too little has been done to correct the gross injustices of the past.
- Bogans and bigots seem to increasingly run the country. The biggest downside of democracy is that you are left with situations where those who shout the loudest rule. This leads to vile, vitriolic shock jocks on the radio and pandering demagogues having way too much control. This leads to situations where people are branded “illegal immigrants” and locked up in detention centres for years at a time, driving them slowly insane. It leads to personal freedoms being stripped away under the pretense of “security”, where the security is just for show and the population is still as exposed as ever. It leads to celebrities being excused for just about any bad behavior because “it must be difficult to be in the spot light all the time” and “anyone who dislikes them must have tall poppy syndrome”. (Hint: If you deliberately drive innocent people to hysterics on radio for the “fun” of laughing at someone who is genuinely distressed, or you tie a young girl to a lie detector – even with parental approval – and ask her about her sex life, you shouldn’t be excused.) It leads to … well, you see where I’m going here.
- We have a government intent on censorship. The minister for menacing the population (aka the “Communications Minister”) Stephen Conroy, waves about the “child pedophilia” banner as an excuse to conduct mass censorship of the internet, despite the fact that such sites apparently make up a tiny fraction of the leaked banned site list. If the government actually gave a damn about what it claims to in this exercise, it would instead focus on smacking the hell out of advertisers, fashion designers, etc., who for the last decade have been intent on the vile practice of encouraging kids to dress and act like tramps before they even understand what they’re doing.
- The country as a whole is obsessed with sport to the exclusion of practically anything else. There’s no pride in focusing so exclusively on sport that we forget all the other endeavors that have made our country great – the humanitarian workers, the scientists, the diplomats and the academics. Yet sport remains such a central focus to the country that it just continues to increase the Boganosity levels.
The bogan response to all this would be “If you don’t like it, you can move somewhere else”. Well, guess what: I was born here, I’m not moving to another country, I want my country to be fixed.
So that’s why I’m not proud to be an Australian today, on Australia day.