I have often thought it fitting that Gough Whitlam was Australia’s 21st Prime Minister. Because with Gough as Prime Minister, Australia came of age. An Australia that once thought small was asked to think big.
An Australia, once closed and inward-looking, opened to the world.
Gough rejected those old ideas of what Australia should be and led us to what Australia could be. My friend and comrade, rest in peace.
I thought back to the idea that asylum seekers should be grateful to be in Nauru. This attitude overlooked the fact that the majority of the men had left families behind in danger. It overlooked the fact that many of the men had spent all their money trying to get to Australia. Now all they had was a dim hope that their families could hold on for who knew how long while they wallowed in a Pacific jail. I didn’t think there were many men grateful to be in Nauru.
Mark Isaacs, a former Salvation army worker in Nauru, addressing the argument that if these men were genuine refugees they should be glad to be in a place like Nauru.
The truth should be told about what we did to Indigenous people, but also the truth about the benefit of civilisation
Christopher Pyne last year. It echoes Tony Abbotts comment on Indigenous people on Q&A back in 2010:
Now, I know that there are some Aboriginal people who aren’t happy with Australia Day. For them it remains Invasion Day. I think a better view is the view of Noel Pearson, who has said that Aboriginal people have much to celebrate in this country’s British Heritage’
It is no surprise that the review commissioned by Christopher Pyne recommends a greater focus on Western civilisation and scaling back emphasis on Indigenous & Asian history.
Our current educational system is already a racist anglocentric account of Australian history that sanitises the invasion and colonisation of Australia. Australian textbooks still refer to white colonisation as a settlement and not an invasion. It still ignores the armed resistance of Indigenous tribes. It is light in recounting the wars that were fought. Most Australian students are still painfully unaware which tribe has ownership of the land that they reside on. Many are incapable of identifying an Aboriginal language. A sizeable proportion of the population are completely unaware of racist laws such as the Flora and Fauna Act that identified Indigenous people as flaura and fauna and not people as recently as 1967. First nations lives lost in the Frontier wars are still not honoured or recognised on ANZAC day. I don’t think its possible to sanitise or further ignore Indigenous history and culture than we already do, white history is still front and centre of our current curriculum, the achievements of ‘white civilisation’ still exalted. If Australia wants to embrace its march towards a prosperous multicultural modern nation it needs to reflect on the racist and violent roots that have borne untold misery and torn Indigenous communities apart, not ignore it.