politics

I still call you home.

ImageTanned beach babe = AUSTRALIAN.

I fell in love with the Wallabies prior to the realisation that muscular men in rugby shorts will always be a bit of a turn on for me. Despite not always being on the ball with their most recent happenings (see what I did then?), whenever I’m actually sitting there in front of the flat screen, watching the game, they become my passion once again.

When I watched my first game about a decade ago Qantas was the Wallabies’ major sponsor, as they remain today. For those of you who grew up in Australia it would’ve been hard to miss their iconic ads. (You can refresh your memories here.)* I used to get teary just listening to the children singing “I Still Call Australia Home” with the panoramas of our rather baben world flashing across the tv screen. Add Matt Giteau converting a try into the mix and I was on an emotional rollercoaster during every ad break. Yeah. I know. Needless to say that I think that the new Qantas ads are fairly s#!t, but let’s save that critique for another day.

What songs remind you of home and of your nation? For me (child with a predominantly 70s and 80s music education) they are:
Khe Sanh – Cold Chisel (God, I love this song.)
Sounds of Then (This is Australia) – Ganggajang
Don’t Dream It’s Over – Crowded House
Beds Are Burning – Midnight Oil
(Land) Down Under – Men at Work
Great Southern Land – Icehouse

Image
Outback = AUSTRALIA.

For those of you who don’t live in Australia or those of you who are on holidays in a serious way and don’t know whether we’re still in January or not, it’s Australia Day this weekend. It’s our day. Our national day. Or, alternatively, the public holiday where we all generally go to the beach, beer in hand whilst listening to Triple J’s Hottest 100.

As awesome as that stereotype is, there’s a part of me which feels pressured to celebrate Australia Day in a certain way… and the whole thing has had me asking myself what on earth it actually means to be Australian. What identifies you as an Aussie? How can you be so sure?

Is it…

  1. Being born in Australia?
  2. Holding Australian citizenship?
  3. Holding an Australian passport?
  4. Being born of one (or two) Australian parents?
  5. Living in Australia?
  6. Being an Indigenous Australian?
  7. Having an ocker accent?
  8. Using the words “mate”, “sheila” and “beaut” in your everyday vernacular?
  9. Only drinking VB?
  10. Feeling like it’s really summer when you settle in to watch the Boxing Day Test?Image
  11. Being able to differentiate between a kangaroo and a wallaby?
  12. Thinking that the majority of the population was drunk when they cast their vote in last year’s election?
  13. Knowing that Wagga Wagga is a place and that Woop Woop isn’t?
  14. Having a deep tan and sun-bleached hair?
  15. Being able to surf?
  16. Riding your pet kangaroo to work each day?
  17. Maintaining that Item 16 is true whenever a tourist asks?
  18. Salivating at the thought of Vegemite, Tim Tams, pavlovas, Anzac cookies, meat pies, Gaytimes or lamingtons?

    Image

  19. Being Caucasian? Oh, I know it’s not politically correct, but be honest with yourself here, chump.
  20. Knowing a “barbie” is so much more than a doll?
  21. Knowing that Sydney is not Australia’s capital?
  22. Being branded with a Southern Cross tattoo?
  23. Punching a random person to the ground when you’re out on a Saturday night just for fun?
  24. Shedding crocodile tears when Steve Irwin died? Bloody sting rays.
  25. Accepting that you’ll never be able to afford any property, so you’ve resigned yourself to bumming off Centrelink and renting until you die?
  26. Sleeping under the stars in a swag in the Outback?
  27. Supporting Your Team through thick and thin?
  28. Smiling at the phrase “How’s the serenity?”?
  29. Eating kiwis only because you like the metaphor?
  30. Knowing you’re home when you smell the waft of eucalyptus leaves?

    Image

  31. Knowing that funnel webs and brown tails are deadly and that koalas aren’t as cuddly as they look?
  32. Being able to recite the Don’s batting records?
  33. Only knowing the first verse of “Advance Australia Fair”?
  34. Knowing in your heart of hearts that “Here’s to Steve! He’s true blue! He’s a piss pot through and through!” is your true anthem?

What is it? What makes you or anyone else Australian? Or differentiates them as not being Australian, for that matter.

See, I don’t know about you, but I don’t fit that stereotype or ideal of what being Australian is. It’s not like I have any particular issues with this kangaroo-shaped cookie cutter (apart from Item 23), but where does that leave me and everyone else who doesn’t have a Southern Cross tattoo emblazoned across their shoulder blade? Does that make us less Australian?

ImageAustralian?

How about our friends who aren’t “white”? So non-PC, Alex. I know it is, but from my perspective, despite living in a city which is home to a multitude of different ethnic groups and races, I question how truly accepting we are of those around us. It disgusts me to admit that I have my own stereotyped prejudices of different ethnic groups within our community. Not many, but a few, nonetheless – and that doesn’t make it any less judgmental, hurtful or unfair towards those people. Perhaps it’s just me, but it feels like we’re multicultural in theory, but not in practice.

Not yet, at least.

ImageAustralia?

Since when did “being Australian” become something we could quantify and measure? (“What do you mean you’ve never watched a game of AFL?! That’s un-Australian!”) And who are any of us to tell the person sitting next to us on the train whether they’re allowed to call this country home?

So, whether you’re cheering along to your favourite song of 2013 on the countdown; sipping a stubbie on the beach; answering calls at work; eating your fourth second slice of lamington; napping on the couch or just having a regular day; I hope you have a great day on Sunday and that you enjoy your long weekend.

I think I can speak for many of us in saying that, whatever we’re doing come Sunday, we’re pretty bloody lucky. No, Australia isn’t perfect (“border protection” policy, lack of marriage equality and Sydney’s public transport, here’s looking at you!), but I think we can all agree that it’s still pretty f#*king awesome… and, if we want to, we should all be allowed to call this mesmerising continent our home.

ImageAustralian?

Alex x

* Please note that, yes, I did get teary when I watched this – partly because I had four versions to decide between for the hyperlink and partly just cos.

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treasure hunting.

“Treasure, that is what you are,
Honey, you’re my golden star,
You know you can make my wish come true
If you let me treasure you.”
– B. Mars, ‘Treasure’.

For those who do not live in Australia or who do but, by some miracle, have managed to avoid all mainstream media over the past few months, we have a federal election tomorrow!

I am not actually that excited about it. I mean, I’m certainly thankful for our political system and our democracy, but I have become so disillusioned and disheartened by our politicians in recent years that I am very tempted to throw my hands up in the air and not give a damn anymore.

The Australian Electoral Commission ran a series of ads in 2007 titled “Your vote is a valuable thing” (which you can check out here) encouraging people to enrol to vote and to see their vote as an important thing. In the ads people who were rummaging around in their houses stumbled across a previously hidden light source which illuminated their lives with its warm glow (metaphors! similes!) accompanied by a sombre, yet hopeful xylophone melody. And whilst despite being a bit cheesy, I must admit that I agree with the sentiment.

Personally, I live in a very, very safe electorate. So safe that it may as well be Tony Abbott’s hometown. Except, I’m not particularly enamoured with the party who has a stronghold over this seat, but seeing as it is really safe I feel that my vote isn’t going to count. It feels so helpless that I’m tempted to do a donkey or blank vote.

Vote 02
Well, how about that? This sums up EXACTLY how I’m tempted to feel.

Except, if I do that I know I’ll be letting myself and others down. As we all know, women’s right to vote is something which many people have fought tirelessly for over many, many years.. and for which people are still fighting for in Saudi Arabia. So, to throw my hands up in the air and do a blank or donkey vote feels like I’m just giving all of the people before me the finger to everything they did for women today.

So, in summary: I’m jolly lucky to live in a prosperous, peaceful, democratic country in which I can vote and where anyone can put themselves forward to stand as a candidate.
But whom should I vote for tomorrow?

Well, I have decided to put my cynicism in a box for the next 24 hours at least (in you go, sweetheart) and I’m going to vote for the party whose policies I agree with the most, despite the fact that they have close to no chance of winning this seat.

My logic is that I can’t be the only one who feels like this (right?), but if everyone who is in the same boat as me just says “F&*# it!” then what difference will that make apart from to ensure that the parties whom we don’t support stay in power? Instead, perhaps if everyone who feels this way spends two minutes voting for the party whom they actually believe will represent and lead them best over the next three years then, over time, that may make an impact. Perhaps we’ll gain some momentum and then, in the future, the safety of such seats may gradually diminish to the point where one little vote no longer feels so meaningless.

See, this is what happens when my twenty-something cynicism gets put on mute: we have an abundance of youthful naivety. Darryl Kerrigan might tell me I’m dreaming, but what would life look like if we didn’t dream? And if you have no idea who Darryl Kerrigan is, please, for your own sake, rectify this issue immediately. You can thank me later, you rascal. 

Although it’s 10 minutes out of our Saturday and the ballot papers can be a bit confusing (Above the line? Below the line? Numbers? Wikileaks? Palmer United?) and it can feel pretty meaningless, I think that Gollum was on to something..

Gollum
A decade on and Lord of the Rings is still amaze. That’s what.

Happy voting, amigos.

Alex x