Australia! A country without its own soul – is time to become a republic
The culture of politicians fuel racism in Australia is a die hard issue. Last year, I responded with an article: Politician Fuels Racism – Are You “Mainstream” Australians? . Unfortunately, only a year apart, the very same issue has again been recycled by our politicians (The Daily Telegraph, 9 Feb 2011 – ‘Ethnic divide a rising threat, say senior Liberal MPs’). This time, I will analyse it from an entirely different angle with a call for Australia to become a Republic.
26th of January is a public holiday in Australia as the nation celebrate the arrival of Captain Arthur Phillip, commander of the First Fleet of eleven convict ships from Great Britain and the first governor of New South Wales, arrived at Sydney Cove in 1788. The official name for this day is the Australia Day.
Every year this day, we witness Australia’s flags flying across the country in the form of a printed shirts, hats, towers and face paintings, and thousands of miniature flags greeting from the side windows of automobiles running everywhere on the streets. It is a proud moment for our usually patriotic citizens.
However, to others in our community, the day 26th January highlighted the beginning of the suffering of our indigenous people since the arrival of the colonial power. Therefore, this day also marked by protests from indigenous people, pacific islanders and their supporters as an invasion day. (SBS, 26 Jan 2011 – ‘‘Invasion day’ protests held’).
Some in our society called this day a “divisive day.”
Call for Australia to become a Republic
It has also become a tradition that, every year this day, people using the occasion to call upon Australia to remove the Union Jack from the flag and move the country towards a republic. According to News Ltd (26 Jan 2011):
This year, we have more than a dozen former Australians of the year dating back to 1960s signed a join statement calling for the flag to change and the country to become a Republic.
Professor McGorry (2010 Australian of the Year), said the present design (flag) causes confusion overseas and embarrassment at home. He said: “The current flag, which incorporates the Union Jack, still “highlights and promotes the flag of another nation”
The statement, released by the chairman of Ausflag called upon Australians:
1) “To take the next step and define ourselves confidently and distinctly before the world.”
2) “Our new flag must be unambiguously and inclusively Australian, representing all of us equally”
3) “We believe the time has come to embrace a flag worthy of our sovereign, independent, mature, egalitarian nation; our own flag.”
Australia! a country without its own soul
However, as usual, such called has again been declined by some within our political leaderships (The Age, 27 Jan 2011 – ‘Leaders flag no change’).
Despite this year (2011) Australian of the Year, Simon McKeon acknowledged that Australia will eventually become a Republic. He still called Britain his “Mother country”. This is how he said: “I don’t want to take away out links with the mother country at all, but the reality is we ought to be able to stand on our own two feet”. (Herald Sun, 26 Jan 2011 – ‘We’ll have a republic, says Australian of Year Simon McKeon’)
There is nothing wrong with Mr. McKeon calling his country of origin or culture of origin “Mother country”, this is simply human nature. We won’t call him “Un-Australian” or complaint that he has a problem with social integration. The most objective and normal thing for us to do is to accept the facts that: We, as Australians, regardless of where we came from and the colour of our skins, we should respect each other culture heritage, language and religion as simply part of the human civilisation. We are all earth people. There is no big different between US and THEM as human beings. Our emotion is similar when placed under a similar circumstances. The important thing is, we should all “stand on our own two feet” and put Australia interest as our priority.
However, in reality, it is unfortunately that throughout the history in this country, many of our leaders still putting the interest of their culture of origin or mother country first. Australia mean nothing to them beside the offering of lip service and sweet talking.
The betrayal of Australians and Australia interests by our political leaderships
Australia is a big island nation far away from most part of the world. It is rich in lands and seas resources with a small population (currently 22 million). By right, if we concentrate our resources on economic development, friendly and independent foreign policy with our Asian neighbours and the Pacific Island Nations, and manage our resources towards the well being of all Australians like the Sultan of Brunei done to his own citizens, Australians will undoubtedly like the Citizens of Brunei become another luckiest people on earth.
However, when we analyse our military history, and the reason for going to war, it is not hard for us to come to the conclusion that, throughout our short history of 200 years, our political leaderships have repeatedly betrayed our national interest and the well being of our citizens for the sack of their “Mother Country” or “Culture of Origin”.
Lets’ put aside examples of our military history before the end of the Second World War such as the incident when Winston Churchill refused to let our troops home to fight the Japanese invasion – despite the urgent request by the then Australian government who decided to sacrifice the life of many of our young men to defend UK’s interest in Europe (Book: Churchill and Australia), it is not hard for us to find examples that, throughout our dealing with Britain and later USA, the leaders in those countries always put their own national interest ahead of ours and treated Australia and Australians like second class citizens, but the Australian politicians still faithfully serving these countries with ‘dog-like’ loyalty. Why?
In the 1950s, Australian government allowed Britain to detonate nuclear bombs in Australia soil and use its citizens (many of them indigenous Australians) as human guinea pigs. As a result, most of these guinea pigs died young - from cancers, from thyroid cancer, from leukaemia’s and so on.
“Like their counterparts in the French Polynesia and Fiji, the Nuclear test veterans of South Australia’s Maralinga site called for compensation for decades”.
“They all claim the exposure to radiation has had a serious effect on them and their families resulting in cancer and genetic mutations.”
50 years on, “Australian veterans are yet to receive any money from their federal government”, and are “joining a class action in Britain after a UK court ruled that the Ministry of Defence had a case to answer”. (ABC, 1 Feb 2010 – ‘Australian nuclear test victims take case to UK’)
However, the Australian government, both state and federal refused to fund their legal battle in UK (Stack Law Firm, 30 Oct 2010 )
The amazing thing is, our mainstream media, seems not too concern about this kind of human right violation case. I spend more than an hours using all kind of key words to search the net using the 3 major search engines and find hardly any evidence that our politicians or mainstream media doing anything to push our government and the British government to do anything to help these victims.
The news posted on the Stack Law Firm website courtesy of the UK’s Independent Weekly (30 Oct 2010) mentioned that the “British Government paid £20 million ($A32.4 million) to the Australian Government as a compensation fund for the clean-up of the nuclear testing sites in 1993.”
However, a further search on the internet indicates that: “a recently unearth British government documents reveal that money was paid as ‘full and final settlement of all claims’ for compensation made by the Australian government or any Australian citizen, such as a military veteran, against the British government in relation to Britain’s nuclear weapons tests that this £20 million.” (Metro UK, 8 Aug 2010 – ‘British government ‘compensated Australian victims of nuclear tests’)
Metro UK also notice that, the 1993 payment “was widely believed the money was to be spent on decontaminating test sites”. Therefore, “At the time, little of the money was paid out, with the Australian government bowing to pressure only in 2006.”
According to the Metro UK: “But now, any person exposed to British nuclear testing can get free private cancer treatment,” “A bill, currently going through the Australian parliament, is looking at increasing benefits, pensions and treatment to nuclear veterans.”
It puzzle me that, why our politicians and media were able to relentlessly demonise another non-Western country when our criminals committed crime there and were punished by their law such as the Rio Tinto Bribery case. However, when our own citizens (14,000 of them) and their families and those other indigenous people who continue to live on those contaminated lands – became the victims of a foreign western government nuclear tests, our usually outspoken media industry and politicians seems to become very quiet and timid about defending the human rights of our own citizens. Why? Where is our so-called “Australian or Western value”?
By comparing the way our politicians and media response in the Rio Tinto Bribery case whereby China was in actual fact, the victim of our corporate crime, you will find the following reports about the Nuclear tests in Australia soil exceptionally low profile without any urge to call for justice and compensation to our fellow Australian victims. You will also notice in the following reports that our politicians seem to be totally absence from the scene. Perhaps this is due to our media industry sudden lack of initiative to put our politicians on the spotlight to answer a few human right questions against their “Mother country” – Britain:
1) ‘British ruling hits Diggers’ bid for bomb test damages’ – (The Age, 24 Nov 2010)
2) ‘Atomic test veterans lose compensation case’ – (ABC, 23 Nov 2010)
3) ‘Veterans threaten class action on Maralinga’ – (ABC, 18 July 2009)
4) ‘Maralinga test veterans move to sue’ – (ABC, 15 Aug 2009)
5) ‘Tjarutja people ‘at risk’ from contaminated land’ – (ABC, 11 Nov 2009)
6) ‘Maralinga returned to traditional owners’ – (ABC, 21 Dec 2009)
7) ‘Defence chiefs admit radiation risks’ – (Australian, 4 Aug 2008)
8) ‘No help for Australian British nuclear test veterans’ – (Adelaide Now, 7 Aug 2010)
9) ‘Families of A-test ‘guinea pigs’ to suffer for generations’ – (Adelaide Now, 17 Jan 2008)
You may try to search the net for more of this kind of related reports by the mainstream media in Australia, I am quite certain that, their style of report with short statements and limited contents were rather similar to the above examples. We have to however, offer credit to ABC for its effort to cover the development of the story over a period of time.
This is perhaps, the reason why the story of a British’s ‘Atomic bomb test veterans hit out at Commons silence over compensation’ reported by the Hull Daily Mail in Britain (7 Aug 2010) is also relevance to be used to describe the “Common silence over compensation” by the mainstream media and politicians here in Australia.
If you are interested to know more about this story and the detail of the massive human right violation by both our government and the British government, the following non-traditional media websites are probably your best sources of information:
2) Stack Law Firm (check out the links on the right hand side of the website as well)
Since the end of the second world war, Australia has involved in virtually each and every war crime the United States and Britain committed across the globe. The West caused more than 3 million deaths in Vietnam and lost the war. Did the world become worst off?
The irony is history seems to repeat itself time and again. The illegal invasion of Iraq (without United Nation endorsement) in 2003 using fabricated evident by George Bush, John Howard and Tony Blair as an excuse for invasion has against causing million of deaths, injuries, displacement and suffering to the Iraqi people. What have we achieve so far?
This 3 minutes YouTube video may provide us the best graphic understanding of the ‘achievement’ of the war. The Wikileaks Iraq war logs also offers us a powerful evidence of the ethicality and brutality of the war through the internal records of the US government.
The same thing happen in Afghanistan. After 9 years of occupation,
1) A recent UN report indicated that ‘Afghan women still suffer horrendous abuse’ – (Guardian, 9 Dec 2010)
2) Another UN report in 2007 indicated that: Afghan Opium Output in 2007 nearly double estimated annual global consumption, while a year before the invasion in 2001, UN report indicated that Taliban government managed to drastically reduce the drug trade by almost 96%.
For those who are interested in knowing the detail of the true nature of the Afghanistan war, the Wikileaks: Afghanistan War log with raw US government documentation about the war is your best place to begin with.
For a comprehensive understanding of the above 3 notorious wars and the degree of human rights violation, please read Outcast Journalist research a year ago: The most humane thing the West can do for the rest of the world is to MYOB (Mind Your Own Business).
Our politicians not only senselessly participated in each and every wars crime America and Britain committed across the globe, we even went to the extend in lowering our own status as a sovereign country by positioning ourselves as the ‘Deputy’ of another country (The Telegraph, 15 Aug 2003 – ‘Bush entrusts ‘deputy sheriff’ Howard with Pacific policing role’).
Despite the fact that, many in the US lead coalitions already withdrawn their troop from Afghanistan such as the Dutch (Global Time, 2 Aug 2010); and the reality that NATO also indicated their intention to withdraw (Telegraph, 28 Jan 2010); the truth is, our own soldiers on the ground do not think that Taliban can be defected (WA Today, 17 Oct 2010). In addition, the recent leak US embassy cables show that “our senior diplomats are pessimistic about our involvement in the Afghanistan war” and that our former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd confided to the US government that “Afghanistan “scares the hell” out of him”. (News Limited, 10 Dec 2010)
The irony is, the Australian government continue to lie to us about the progress in the war and pledge to continue to commit our troops and resources to this never ending war. For examples:
1) ‘Afghan commitment finite, says PM Rudd’ (The Age, 23 Jun 2010)
2) ‘Abbott and Gillard insist Australia must stay course in Afghanistan’ (Courier mail, 25 Aug 2010)
3) ‘Afghanistan: we’re staring at 10 more years, warns PM (Julie Gillard)’ (Sydney Morning Herald, 20 Oct 2010)
Whenever our young man returned home in a casket, the only thing our politicians did is to offer a standard format – lip service: “Our heart and soul is with the victim family” and ‘He is a brave soldier defending Australia …..” and so on.
Those who returned home with post-traumatic stress disorder, and those who suffer permanent injuries such as a lost of legs, hands and eyes were “forced to keep injuries secret” (News Limited (9 May 2010 – ‘Australian troops question Defence Force secrecy around their injuries’).
Why are we doing that? Where is our Australian value?
An article on Crikey, 12 Jul 2010 under the heading: ‘Telling the truth on Afghanistan’ rightly pointed out the mentality of our political leaders:
“Australia is fighting in Afghanistan because we support our alliance with the US. It is Australia’s cornerstone security alliance, and when America fights a major war, especially in or near our region, Australia needs to provide moral and military support to send a clear message to the US Government that we value the alliance.”
The cruel reality is that, do the US value our alliance?
We all remember that during the Bush presidency, he has in a number of occasions, openly praised the then Prime Minister John Howard as the American best friend, however, in his recent memoirs, he “appears to have confined his ”deputy sheriff” John Howard – and Australia – to little more than a footnote in his just-published memoirs” (Sydney Morning Herald, 11 Nov 2010 – ‘Howard’s end – a note in Bush’s memoirs’)
In another occasion some 15 years ago, it was exposed that Australia government bugs China embassy in Canberra using the US government bugging devices. I remember that, after our government carry out the dirty job, the US government who own the listening devices failed to share information with our government. (Note: I managed to find a link related to this story on The Moscow Times, if you are willing to pay for the subscription, please click here, I have to confess, I did not view this video as I am not willing to pay for it).
The irony is, our politicians failed to learn from the past experience and continue to serve the US interest with ‘Dog-like’ loyalty.
For example, despite our commitment on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, it was reported by the Australian on 21 May 2009 that, “FORMER US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld deliberately blocked Australian access to top-secret Pentagon intelligence on Iraq and Afghanistan”
Conclusion: Australia must become a Republic
Australia belong to all mankind who called Australia home. Regardless of the background of our ancestries such as people from the first fleets – who arrived against their will; or people who came here as a colonial power – some may have involved in the mass killing of the indigenous people; or people who came here for business and employment opportunities; or people who came as refugees; the basic facts are that “we are all migrants” – We are all Australians. No body can deny this part of our history.
We all work hard to raise our families.
Outside our work-hours, some may wish to indulgence themselves in listening to Music: whether in the form of classic, Jazz, rock or sentimental in whatever languages such as French, Japanese, Indian or Jewish, they are all music. Aren’t they? The important thing is, you have to enjoy it.
Same thing here, you may select to find peace using your weekend in a Church, Temple, Mosque, or simply having a quiet stroll in the bush, along the beach or having a movie. Whether the movie is an action movie, love story, supernatural or even triple XXX, is there a difference if it is in Russian language, Chinese or English? Aren’t they just movies? The important thing is, those activities must make you relax and feel happy.
Again, when you are hungry, you may like to eat some rice, tomatoes and eggs, whether it is prepared in a continental way, Chinese, Lebanese or whatsoever ways, they are all foods. Aren’t they? The important thing is you enjoy them.
This is basically the lifestyle of every individual live in Australia unless you are homeless, unemployed and in poverty. This is probably also the lifestyle of those who raises the issue of “social integration” against others time and again. Why should we worry about the way Muslim killed the animals for food after prayer? Did’t we shot Kangaroos and leave them to their painful and slow death for leisure or to control their population? Aren’t the Muslim way of doing it a lot more humane?
The problem in our society is that, we have a small group of self-claimed “mainstream”, who very often betrayed the interest of Australians and Australia – like what I already demonstrated above in the British nuclear test case and the war in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. These people have disregard the social fabric of our nation as a migrant society.
They are by any definition the most notorious divisive forces facing our society – threatening the peace and harmony of mankind.
When those people refused to integrate themselves with the rest of us, how are we going to be able to integrate with them?
What is Australian value when our troop committed war crime in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq?
What is Australian value, when our politicians and media lack the courage to voice up on behalf of our nuclear test victims against their mother country – Britain?
Unless Australia become a republic with a change in mindset within some session of our population, I am afraid, these small group of people who called themselves ‘mainstream’ will continue to put themselves at odd with the society by crying and screaming about the issue of social integration and not knowing that, they are the one who have the problem in integrating themselves with the rest of us.
There is no problem with multiculturalism if we respect each other right for freedom of choice in the way we prepare our food, listening to the music and spending our weekends. If this is not Australian value? What is?
Written on 10 Feb 2011.