Can you? Probably not, we have a long way to go before another woman runs our country let alone an Aboriginal, Muslim or Asian person. Tony Abbott’s speech on the 100 defining Australian moments in history, leaves no doubt in my mind that he is a proud Anglophile.
Lets look at what he would like included from 1964 as a couple of defining moments in Australian history. Firstly, we have Rupert Murdoch who started publishing The Australian that year. This is more of an event that happened that year and akin to those birthday cards, with the year that you were born, not a defining moment of Australian history.
Curiously next on Mr Abbott’s wish list of defining moments is the book ‘The Lucky Country’ by Donald Horne. I’m not sure if Mr Abbott knows that the author was not saying that we are a lucky country per se, quite the opposite in fact.
In fact he was exhausted by misinterpretations over time, that he once said he wished that he had never coined the phrase.
Mr Abbott: “There is a further defining moment that I hope one day will certainly have a plaque here at the National Museum and that’s for the constitutional amendment recognising Aboriginal peoples that I hope will soon take place,” he said.
Is The Australian newspaper first published in 1964 by Mr Murdoch, more deserving of a plaque before our Aboriginal people’s still not yet recognised in the Australian Constitution?
A plaque and memorial in 2000 acknowledging the Myall Creek massacre in 1838, was erected and became part of the Australian National Heritage List in 2008. This massacre in particular is unsettling because, it’s barbarity was not just beheaded children but forcing the men and women to run while hacking at them with swords and keeping one woman as a sex slave (for 2-3 days) that had to watch all of her loved ones being slaughtered. Is this not yet just another form of old fashioned terrorism?
Mr Abbott: “The arrival of the first fleet was the defining moment in the history of this continent. Let me repeat that: it was the defining moment in the history of this continent,” the prime minister said.
Mr Abbott repeating the dog whistling above can give us insight into the power of language and rhetoric and the emotions it can conjure as a tactic. As human beings we are highly susceptible to language especially negative. I hope you find Stephen Fry’s short link of interest.
Mr Abbott: “It was the moment this continent became part of the modern world. It determined our language, our law and our fundamental values. Yes, it did dispossess and for a long time marginalise Indigenous people.
Yes they did get dispossessed and they are still being marginalised but they are also the oldest living culture in the world. How is this not just an important part of Australia’s history but perhaps it’s original history that we gate-crashed? On one hand we are saying that we want to recognise Aborigines in the Constitution but on the other hand we aren’t recognising their history. Is being an Anglophile part of Team Australia values?
Mr Abbott: “It has provided the foundation for Australia to become one of the freest, fairest and most prosperous societies on the face of the earth. So Arthur Phillip is as significant to modern Australia as George Washington is to the modern United States.
Arthur Phillip oversaw the First Fleet journey, arrival and made the decision to land at Port Jackson. Consequently he was the first Governor of NSW. He was an interesting Englishman of his time in that he made the most out of a bad situation and adapted to his environment as easily as Aborigines did when they first came to live in Australia some reported 60,000 years ago. He had dreams of an new Empire in the South seas with skilled migrants. He is quoted as saying –
First NSW Governor Arthur Phillip: ‘As I would not wish convicts to lay the foundation of an Empire’, he observed, ‘I think they should ever remain separated from the garrison and other settlers that may come from Europe’, even after their sentences were completed.
This was not to be, with the first arrival consisting of 1030 settlers comprising of 736 convicts including 188 women, the rest were marines and civil officers with 27 wives and 37 children. Only 13 migrants traveled to Sydney in the first 5 years, with none of them arriving here until Mr Phillip had departed back to England. He encountered things such as military officers not wanting to grow vegetables as they thought that was beneath them and were hungry for large, land grants which Mr Phillip wasn’t allowed to authorise for some time. Scurvy ensued and supplies were sourced by ship from Cape York amongst other places. He also had to deal with convicts who didn’t want to toil in a foreign land full of hard ships and far away from their home land. He also took his humanitarian instructions in regards to Aborigines seriously, despite being speared in the shoulder himself at once stage reportedly due to miscommunication, until his gamekeeper was killed. It has been reported he sent out a revenge party to avenge his death despite reports of the game keepers excessive murder and cruelty to Aborigines and this being the reason for his death.
This leads me back to the George Washington comparison and what that means for all Australians. Besides Mr Phillip being the Governor of a Penal Colony on a foreign land, with hopes of turning it into another arm of the British Empire and Mr Washington being the first President of the USA and similar military background experiences? Mr Washington did preside over the convention that drafted the United States Constitution though. Mr Philips did his job how ever and went back home to England.
Mr Abbott: “On 26 January 1788 Governor Phillip raised the union flag at Sydney cove, drank to the king’s health and success to the settlement – I quote from the official record – ‘with all that display of form which on such occasions is esteemed propitious because it enlivens the spirits and fills the imagination with pleasing presages.’
Mr Abbott: “Yes, he was a man of his times, he was a man who embodied the best of his times and may this country embody the very best.”
Mr Abbott clearly admires Mr Phillips’ legacy and rues that we don’t know enough about him let alone recognise our ‘founding father’ but he is recognised with many plaques. I would guess more than Aborigines.
We can only wait on the Government Report of its Review of the National School Curriculum (including the area of History) and hope that it represents all Australians.
I hope that with with the sentiment of this post, that we can try and embrace our Muslim brothers and sisters especially right now at a time when their kids in particular are being targeted by extremists. If George Brandis thinks it’s ok to have Sydney Muslim leaders waiting for nearly an hour, you have to question the seriousness of the Governments legitimacy and genuine seriousness with this issue let alone ISIL terrorism or even greater access to metadata.
Hany Amer, a spokes person for 15 Muslim and Community groups:
“However, this should not come at the cost of our core values, freedoms and civil liberties afforded to all Australians.”
Now picture a female Muslim Prime Minister…