The race riots on Sydney’s beaches – Anglo-Australians (“Aussies”) versus Lebanese (“Lebs”) – have repercussions far beyond a drink fuelled punch-up on a sweltering summer week-end.
They have revealed that the “lucky country’s” historic racism lingers on, like a sun cancer just below the skin. Given the right circumstances all the advances of recent years – the abolition of the White Australia policy, the encouragement of a multi-cultural, multi-racial society with emphasis on tolerance and harmony – can apparently vanish overnight. There was time to act to avert trouble but no one had the will.
It does not matter whether England or Australia triumphs in the fifth Test which begins at the Oval tomorrow–the significance of this clash of two cricketing titans has already been established. England is again a power in the game and Australia is the struggling underdog. I see this this an early sign that England and Australia are trading places, not just in sport but in other walks of life as well.
England has been regarded as a class-ridden, arrogant, unreliable, condescending nation, in mourning for its lost greatness. Its sporting efforts have invariably ended in disappointment. Australia was the young, forward-looking, egalitarian country and its many sporting triumphs a symbol of its confidence.
The Rugby World Cup has ended with sweet, sweet victory for England and mortification for Australia. For weeks the Aussies have been accusing the Poms of being “smug” and “arrogant”, of playing “boring and unimaginative” rugby, of being “miserable people living in a cold, old country”. Will England now justifiably rub the Australians’ faces in the mud? And will relations between the two countries never be the same again?
Of course not. Nothing will change. England has been gracious in victory. The team paid tribute to Australia’s gallant effort. English supporters joined Australians in singing “Waltzing Matilda in the stands after the match. Yes, the Australian press reported the result under the headline “Read This And Weep”– and many did. But they were often consoled by English fans who know only too well what it is like to be “gutted” by your team’s defeat.
We can handle six weeks of World Cup rugby but can we survive six weeks of Australia? Here’s a country just a little over 100 years old, and with only 20 million people, that is a world leader in so many fields, and not afraid to boast about it. Six weeks of seeing and hearing confident, optimistic Australians enjoying their life in their Spring sunshine as our winter closes in may be too much even for Rugby fans.
A special Evatt Sunset Seminar, Investigative Journalism: Phillip Knightley with Chris Masters, was held today at the Seymour Theatre Centre in Sydney.
The following is taken from the Evatt Foundation website:
The Evatt Foundation proudly presents a pre-dinner public seminar on The Death of Investigative Journalism and Who Killed It? Featuring Phillip Knightley with Chris Masters
“The age of the war correspondent as hero is clearly over”, concluded Phillip Knightley in the recent edition of his classic study, The First Casualty. As the world awaits war, governments, their spin doctors, propagandists and military commanders will intensify their focus on controlling the media. History suggests that lies, manipulation, news management, distortion, omission, slant and gullible coverage will be the order of the day.
Part history, part travelogue, part memoir, this book tells the inspiring story of how a one-time British colony with only two sorts of citizens, convicts and gaolers, turned itself into a proud, prosperous and confident country, the greatest sporting nation on earth, where the citizens of its high-leisure cities enjoy a lifestyle that is the envy of the world.
Despite the appalling bloodshed of two world wars, the horror of the great depression, strikes, riots, secret armies and near civil wars, out of this amazing mix grew a new and unique character – the Australian. Through the eyes of ordinary people struggling with their passions, hopes, dreams and ambitions, Phillip Knightley describes the journey that has taken the Great South Land from a dark, racist and often murderous past to a working multi-cultural society.
Buy Australia: A Biography of a Nation — UK | US
Review of Australia: a biography of a nation by Jan Morris
This book is a grand encapsulation of all Australia, past and present. It evokes in me just the emotions Australia itself evokes. It astonishes me, it shocks me, it entertains me, it saddens me, it bewilders me, it makes me think there’s rather too much of it and it makes me proud – for who could not be proud for Australia, who has seen the Southern Cross flying floodlit at midnight on Sydney Harbour Bridge?
The scene is familiar to everyone who has watched a Hollywood Western. The lone cowboy has just made camp and is heating his beans and brewing his coffee when a cloud of dust on the horizon or the distance sound of hoofbeats indicates that someone is approaching. The cowboy douses his fire and immediately reaches for his gun.