1998 speaker: Peter Garrett

ambassador 1998 peter garrettPeter Garrett delivered the Australia Day Address at Parliament House, Sydney, on 22 January 1998.

Transcript

It is a very great honour to be invited to give the 1998 Australia Day Address. I am passionate about our country and aware that opportunities of this kind are rare, so I thank the Australia Day Council for the invitation and you, the people, for listening.

I am speaking from the site of one of our most significant historical institutions; our first colonial Parliament. Here democracy has been at work for over a hundred years. It still

is. The sound, the fury, the tedious business of law making grinds along in this engine room of NSW politics. Yet this place, like others around the nation, is, a visible sign that Australians inhabit that rarest of domains, a civil, democratic society. Here "the best method of finding approximate solutions to insoluble problems is sometimes made possible." 1

I wish to acknowledge and honour the past, as a way of remembering that events and people in history shape our character in ways personal and national. I acknowledge the Eora and Gadigal people on whose land we stand. I also acknowledge my own forebears, my elders - descendants of Flemish and English stock whose efforts of labour, child-rearing, service in two world wars, and furtherance of higher education enabled their descendants to grow up peacefully and securely.

It is scarcely imaginable that the journeys taken by my grandparents up and down the Brown Mountain from Bowral to Bega for dentistry work were by horse and dray, taking

weeks at a time and seeing them camping out on the track as they went. A mobile phone and a Commodore would make light work of that journey in 1998.

I also want to acknowledge the presence of former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, Young Australian of the Year Tan Lee, distinguished guests, and friends. And finally I want to commend to you last year's Australia Day Address by author Tom Keneally who said a good deal of what I think needs to be said on a day like this and in ways more erudite than I. Ostensibly marking the date of the first Fleet's entry into Botany Bay, Australia Day means different things to different people. For some it is an occasion for further holiday, to toast the Southern Cross around a barbecue with mates and simply hang out.

Others view all the fireworks and speeches with a measure of scepticism.

"What is it we are meant to be celebrating?" they ask, "when there is all around us a 'sea of troubles'." For the indigenous people "Invasion Day" is sometimes used, rightly I think sometimes, as a term. They see little cause for dancing in the street with joy on this Australia Day.

I guess it depends on your circumstance and frame of mind. But my hope is that Australia Day can include both celebration and reflection, and with a specific purpose; the consideration of what it is that should constitute the goals of our national life - in other words where we, as a nation, are headed.

There are those who maintain that the end of this century heralds the end of history and possibly democracy as well and that public affairs are in a state of flux as between nations and people as never before.

Now that the fate of communism - a topic which greatly exercised the minds of Australians and their leaders for decades - is settled, our era has witnessed the rise of powerful trans- national corporations who in a deregulated world economic system have outstripped many Nation States in economic power.

The old certainties are giving way. Governments, never mind the people, it is said, are powerless to influence events as it is the market which prevails, and which interacts with

the world regardless of ideology or national policy. Indifferent to social outcomes, the market sets its own rules based on the laws of economics and is played out on a mythical entity known as the level playing field.

A sense of nationhood - and with it the possession by governments of autonomous law making and money raising powers - may be considered still one of the few bulwarks against this kind of global corporatism which eschews any notion of national or public interest.

Fortunately, countries as joined communities have responsibilities which lie outside facilitating the economic system, especially a system that can produce losers as well as winners.

We share a common language, we share institutions which allow us to participate in society and to provide for those less well-off. We share a way of life. Interstate sporting rivalries, 'locals only' mind sets ultimately fade in real significance, particularly in a time of crisis, but the fact of nation still remains.

I like to think of us as a community of people living in a place where the skies stretch out forever and where the land and sea whisper to those who listen. The sound of a kookaburra heralding summer rain, the cricket commentary on the radio mean more to me than anything you can rent from the video shop.

We enter 1998 with several momentous debates raging; Wik and The Republic. It seems to me there is no way of avoiding these topics and I think it no exaggeration to say that the manner in which we, as a nation, conduct and resolve these contentious issues will directly shape our future.

I am not convinced with the debate over Wik that Australians have had sufficient opportunity to complete that discussion. We need a renewed national dialogue, conducted with a spirit of tolerance, faithful to history, which thoroughly canvasses the issues in such a way as to resolve anxiety and concern in the community.

And as we embark on considering the question of the desirability of becoming a Republic, here too we need to continue a national dialogue; and I don't think it can just be sound bite conversations conducted in a breathless rush just to make the 2001 deadline. We will have to make the effort to understand an often difficult document - The Constitution,- with bipartisan cooperation, patience, diligence and trust we can achieve a result that has national acceptance. As well as these two identity issues of Wik and the Republic I want to make brief mention of a third matter close to my heart which presses upon us and that is the desirability of adopting a conservation ethic as part our way of life.

In the report to Government, 'Australia: State of Environment 1996' we read, "Australia has some very serious environmental problems. If we are to achieve our goal of ecological sustainability, these problems will need to be dealt with immediately."

True, but we urgently need not the words but the actions that will repair our natural life support systems - the rivers and forests, soils and oceans. Rehabilitation is an urgent requirement across much of rural Australia and whilst there are welcome signs from initiatives such as Landcare that we have begun to repair the damage, still we continue to clear the bush, lose the topsoil and the farm income that goes with it and plan ever more encroachments into the undisturbed parts of our country.

To try and get a bearing on the extraordinary scale and momentum of growth and development, just consider that one years economic growth in the 1820's is equivalent to one day's growth at the present time. All the birds, plants and animals, the lagoons, creeks, rivers, mountains and gullies that make up Australia are not static entities sitting postcard- still in their own place and time. They are healthy ecosystems and are as responsible for our standard of living as anything we can produce.

If we fail to stop drawing down our natural capital then convict Australia will revisit our children in the 21st century as they become "prisoners of unmanageable processes" swinging from one eco crisis to another.

But this profound change of outlook I am advocating is unlikely to be realised until we translate our love of the bush, of fishing, of surfing into a practical ethos which lodges in our actions and in the policies and activities of our political and social institutions.

A cynic, and there are plenty about, might say that any attempt to argue or articulate national values is so much paspalum blowing in the wind, but I don't believe this to be a fruitless exercise at all. One likely cause of lack of confidence in our political system, especially among young people, is that we have no real goals to aspire to as a nation. I'm using Australia Day as an opportunity then to talk about our goals and aspirations. That way we might reach them.

If I was invited, as locals sometimes are, to conduct a guided tour of Australia for friends visiting from abroad - let's say from France or Cambodia, where would I take them, what would I show them, what stories would I tell them?

Well... I'd probably start at Sydney Cove, the place of first settlement. With the dramatic and highly photogenic Opera House and Harbour Bridge as our backdrop, we'd view the harbour by ferry, crossing over water "...like silk, like pewter, like blood, like a leopard's skin...".2

I'd caution against swimming if it had just rained, to avoid our guests getting any nasty infections, and instead suggest we visit the first farm of the colony now the Botanic Gardens, then up to the Art Gallery and to the museums. I'd take them to a few pubs to hear Australian music and meet people, people from all walks of life. We'd go to a bush dance and hear songs sung from the heart about billies and swag men and monstrous cities that swallow you whole. I would fling our vibrant culture at them. I'd lend them books by Carey, Jolley, Facey and Winton and tell these visitors we've got some of the best filmmakers and poets in the whole damn world.

We'd go and see plays, dance, we'd go to the cricket, We'd go to a surf lifesaving carnival. I'd take some pleasure in pointing out that the lifesavers on the beach did just that, saved lives, and that usually no one paid them to do it. "Now that's Australian", I'd say.

I'd play them some of my favourite CD's; Hunters and Collectors, the Mavis's, Bernie Gannon, Vince Jones, Kev Carmody, Coolangubra, Crowded House and a host of others. And then we'd go to a milk bar with frosted glass surrounds, if we could find one, and have a burger with real beetroot or sample any one of many different and delicious foods, prepared by scores of different nationalities who've made this country their home.

We'd drive up the coast and explore on the cheap, staying at caravan parks, dining at barbecue areas, the outdoors would be our realm and we'd surf the surging Pacific every day.

And then, if circumstances allowed I'd send on a trip across the Great Southern Land. Included in the itinerary would be Uluru and Kakadu in the Top End, the Daintree Tropical Rainforest and The Great Barrier Reef, all natural wonders of the world. With luck they'd get to the exhilarating escarpment country of the Kimberley in Western Australia and of course to the Blue Mountains here in NSW. This would be the tip of the iceberg but enough to gain a sense of the amazing panorama of Australia.

I'd explain to these tourists, my friends, with a mixture of pride and frustration that these places were 'must sees'; all of outstanding scenic value and in some cases, where indigenous Australians lived, of incredible cultural value as well. Here were Australia’s great treasures, a living culture with a range of species and ecosystems unmatched anywhere on earth.

As an aside I would point out that in our recent history there had been ordinary citizens - sometimes called 'greenies'- who had banded together to try and keep these places protected. But that from the beginning Australians had created a system where pristine land was quarantined from development. Everyone could visit and enjoy these places of special beauty that we call National Parks. At Uluru, formerly known as Ayers Rock, the Aboriginal people who lived there had agreed to lease back the land to be administered as a park by the Government. And tourism, whereby many people from other countries visited places like these, was now our single most important source of employment.

I would caution that Kakadu with it's ancient rock art, extensive World Heritage recognised wetlands, dramatic waterfalls is soon to host a second uranium mine, Jabiluka, (the first an

anomaly from an earlier time) against the wishes of the Mirrar people, the traditional owners. And that there are dozens others planned for inland Australia, including in Western Australia at Kintyre within the Ruddall River National Park.

I would note that despite real misgivings about the effects on the environment there is a massive dam intended for the Kimberley where extensive cotton farms are planned.

Here in Australia's largest city; described only 150 years ago as consisting of "... an orphan school, a commodious jail, a military hospital, a naval yard and a good market.... " we had reached our limits of growth. Whilst the Blue Mountains were on line for World Heritage recognition and were still spectacularly beautiful and relatively unspoiled, they were being faced down by suburban sprawl and choked, as we all were, by the pollution of Sydney.

I would point out that, despite these instances, there is a movement led by large and often overseas companies to allow other activities like mining in National Parks. For the visitor they are natural icons of great beauty, symbols of Australia, for the scientist they are places of research and critical nurseries and habitat for our native plants and animals. But for some, the fact that other than for limited tourism they couldn't be exploited was an anathema and they used their best efforts, sometimes successfully, to persuade Governments to allow "multiple-use" in them; so see them quick before it's too late, I urge our visitors.

On returning to Sydney we'd meet outside our State Government House - nice looking building! - and I would start to explain that because modern Australia started life as a series of British colonies our State Parliaments had their own Governors who were the Queen of England's representatives here and that it wasn't until 1901 that we had agreed on a national Constitution and the States linked up to become the Commonwealth of Australia. We'd then visit the Olympics site at Homebush and marvel at the scale of building activity for a country with such a small population and I'd suggest that when we won some medals, and nothing could be surer, then our national anthem 'Advance Australia Fair' would be sung - loudly, not 'God Save The Queen' although the Queen of England was still our Head of State.

Naturally, they would be amazed at this news but I'd quickly go on to explain that the Queen's representative, the Governor General, was the nominal Australian Head of State but his powers were mainly ceremonial.

The Prime Minister, was the head of the Government, but wasn't even mentioned in the Constitution. Although the Governor General is the head of the Armed Forces (Section 61) and could appoint and dismiss ministers (section 68) and dissolve parliament (Section 57) all by himself.

The Constitution isn't the only rule book though, I'd say, because we also have 'conventions' kind of 'gentlemen’s agreements', which were meant to apply to Governors General and Parliaments when there's a gap in the Constitution. In our only national constitutional crisis in 1975 when the Governor General dismissed the Prime Minister the Constitution and the country hung together but in the process all the relevant conventions - for example not replacing a dead senator with a senator from another party, in fact all the conventions weren't followed. But we survived.

I finish this convoluted explanation by saying we're having a -People's Convention on the Constitution next month to discuss whether we should have our own Head of State, and thus become a Republic. Some people cared a lot about this subject, some less, but in the last ten years, I said, opinion had shifted in favour of a republic and now for the people to choose the Head of State. But the shape of the new Constitution was still far from clear. Let us look closely now at the matter of relations with Aboriginal people.

In "An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales" (1798) by Captain Collins, he writes "but strange as it may appear they also have their real estates. Ben-nil-long, both before he went to England and since his return, often assured me that the island Me Mel (called by us Goat Island) close by Sydney Cove was his father's and that he should give it to By-gone his good friend and companion. To this little spot he seemed much attached; and we have often seen him and his wife enjoying themselves on it. He told us of other people who possessed this kind of hereditary property which they retained undisturbed."

But not undisturbed for long. Within a few short decades of the arrival of the tall ships from the East, which occasion we are marking today, all but the most remote regions of this country had been wrested away from the people whose real estate it was. As we now know,-this takeover can accurately be described as a savage war of occupation which culminated in the almost total destruction of a people, who were not considered of equal human nature with Europeans and thus capable of being civilised, and so, were consigned to the margins of the new arrivals' society to await their fate.

This then was a kind of original sin, in Xavier Herbert's words, it may be that "Until we give back to the black man some of what we have taken from him. and give it back in the same spirit that it was taken-without proviso or strings to snatch it back we shall remain what we have always been, a people without a soul, not a nation, but a community of thieves." This Australia, "tender breasted (of) dry womb"3 is the reverse side of the generous open place I have such affection for.

Of all the subjects that bedevil Australians, our relationship with the indigenous peoples is by my reckoning, one of the most troubling. Why? Partly because this issue is reaching a climax with the Government's response to the High Court decision in the Wik case.

As well, this challenge presses upon us because at its core it partly defines our character and delineates what it means to be Australian. The matter is still unsettled.

And because it is an issue confined to our national boundaries, whose history lies in our past actions, it is something we are singly accountable for and thus capable of resolving.

The physical facts are clear. The need to fence tracts of large land, which was and is so much a part of the private utilisation of property, essential to the creation of wealth had run head long into a semi nomadic culture who constantly travelled the land, lived off it but who were not capable of defending or defining it in terms that could be comprehended by the squatter and the soldier.

The validation of the original theft by the political and legal institutions of the new nation via the legal fiction of terra nulius - that the land was unsettled "an empty place" prevented us addressing this stark history earlier. Until Mabo that is.

When, after 100 years of undeclared warfare, the consensus was reached that the Aborigine could in no way manage their own affairs, they were subject to separation from their traditional way of life and placed under State control via the Protection Acts of the l8th century.

This measure, though well meaning was a miserable failure. Aboriginal society continued to inexorably come apart until by the early 1950's they suffered the ignominy of being described in that now notorious phrase as a "dying pillow". Ravaged by smallpox, venereal disease, alcoholism, diabetes, they were deemed to be incapable of survival, a race of peoples consigned, rather quickly it seems in retrospect, to the graveyard of history.

This bloody experience of settlement where violence was commonplace was something I didn't learn about at school and neither I regret to say have my own children been fully appraised of it. Still this is not to say that all settlers lacked compassion for the plight of Aboriginal people. There were some in the churches, some in society and Parliament who spoke out and intervened and in later years a response of sorts by governments was begun. As early as 1824 and then in 1867 senior figures in both Protestant and Catholic churches attempted to oppose the majority opinion that Aboriginals were (and I quote) " a set of monkeys, a despicable and brutal race.." by asserting the common humanity of Aboriginal people. But theirs was a voice seldom heard.

The methods later chosen to improve the Aboriginal condition; assimilation and separation of children from their families and people from their hereditary land, had, in many instances, compounded the original felony and left most Aboriginal people without family, home or hope.

I hope it isn't too obvious or patronising to tell this story or to describe the kind of culture that European explorers and settlers found when they ventured across the continent.

To begin with, they found the oldest extant, meaning 'still existing' culture on the face of the earth. This fact in itself is remarkable enough. The Aboriginal occupation of at least 40,000 and possibly 50,000 plus years being a phenomenal period in terms of human history.

Secondly they found a collection of societies that were highly evolved; not in the sense of

highly sophisticated living culture. Central to it was the notion of the Dreamtime (tjurkurrpa) when "Groups of ancestral beings crossed the landscape, leaving their mark in the form of hills, caves and other topographic features”4 these ancestors' adventures were - and still are - recorded in rituals and epic song cycles, their rich detail commented on in stories, myths and highly sophisticated paintings.

On top of this, these stories established the rules of Aboriginal social life as well as explaining how the landscape came to be. It was a truly integrated and synergistic cosmology. The great Aboriginal art tradition seen in the magnificent rock painting at Kakadu in Arnhem Land and on Cape York pre dates the Palaeolithic European rock art sites of Lancaux in France and Altimira in Spain and along with numerous other sites constitute an extraordinary creative heritage.

From what can be pieced together about the first contact it seems unequivocal that the initial and subsequent acts of aggression were perpetrated by the British and that it took some time before any organised resistance to the newcomers was mounted as it dawned upon the indigenous people that these visitors were here to stay and that their land was being stolen.

Knowing this in theory and experiencing it in real time are two different things and it wasn't until ten years ago - whilst touring Central and Northern Australia with Midnight Oil we visited in a remote desert community with a group of elders as our guides - listened to the songs of the Pintupi people and were shown the law sticks of the tribe. This was a rare honour and our hosts emphasised that the law contained therein could not be changed by whim but had remained constant over aeons. It was then that the real import of this culture hit me.

Here were a people who had literally walked back to their ancestral lands some hundreds of kilometres from the camp west of Alice Springs where they had been placed during the assimilation drive of the 1950's and begun the process of reinstating their way of

life. Central to their identity was their land and their law and they drew great strength from

of mineral seams that it held no attraction for the outside world. Unlike many others their land had not been taken from them.

Somehow Aboriginal people have managed to survive with dignity. Their culture has proved resilient, their creative capacity continues to astound but the way high levels of infant illness, early death, incarceration and suicide of youth, indeed of most indices of human well being, that are a feature of Aboriginal communities ought to trouble any fair minded Australian.

Yet these statistics have come to mean different things to different people. For despite the history I have just sketched out there are some who contend that Aboriginal people are actually privileged. For these people and for the politicians who give them implicit support, the Aboriginal population has already been given too much. "The time has come to get some balance into the debate, the pendulum has swung too far, there shouldn't be any special treatment for anybody"... they say.

They refer in angry tones to the "Aboriginal industry"; made up no doubt, as some one recently remarked, of numerous Aboriginal judges, media magnates, the many Aboriginal heads of large companies, and politicians, which needs to be restrained.

They complain about a black armband view of history, a malignant phrase which manages to imply "brown shirt" and wearing one's heart on one's knee at the same time. Apparently the knowledge gained by a fresh generation of historians and the stories told by survivors which fill the large gap in Australian history so that we come to understand what happened when Europeans arrived - apparently this knowledge now needs to be rejected. And if anyone counters that the views of those who prefer to white-out the past appear to have elements akin to racism, then they in turn are shouted back into the corner and branded hypocrite or even worse "politically correct".

The discontent about Aboriginal people asserting their legal rights or demanding a response to the Black Deaths in Custody Royal Commission or the Stolen Children Report of the Human Rights Commission stems in part, some experts tell us, from the psychic trauma associated with confronting massive end of century change.

But I suspect these reactions are a crunching reminder that our recent past is racist to the extent that race was an issue in immigration, that racial discrimination was part of the policies of the major parties and is explicit in the stance of Australia's newest political party. What is most challenging is the fact that we are being asked to reconsider our view of what constitutes our national make up as informed by this history. Is it more than a series of explorer figures, colonial tales and victorious adaption by Europeans to a hostile and different environment, and if so, what does this new history tell us about ourselves.

In this case if the most poignant observation in Mabo by Justice Brennan that "Their (the Aboriginal people's) dispossession underwrote the development of the nation" is correct and I believe it is, then the process of reassessment and reconciliation that must follow is difficult and challenging and most of us are ill prepared for the task. Especially if our source of information for making a judgement is a sensationalist media, who often amplify all things negative.

And if our leaders fail conspicuously to grasp the opportunity to right a wrong, to evince shame (which is different from guilt), or even display a comprehension of the acute suffering of another group then we as a nation are the lesser. If our leaders for reasons of political expediency adopt the position held by those who have benefited most from dispossession - the pastoralists and the miners - and who in the past most strenuously resisted any accommodation with Aboriginal interests then we as a nation are the lesser. If our leaders deny this historical accounting we are the lesser . If our leaders refuse to accept the High Court finding of a limited right, which brings law and history into sync, we are the lesser. If our leaders, in watering down native title, allow the alienation of nearly

half the continent which is currently held in trust via leasehold, to go into private hands, and this will be the biggest land grab since Governor Phillip's appointment at the beginning of the first European settlement, then we will be the lesser nation for it. And if all this happens reconciliation becomes an exceedingly difficult task.

The way forward, and surely we cannot expect much if we retreat to mean self interest, was clearly enumerated by the Governor-General Sir William Deane in the initial Vincent Lingiari lecture titled "Signposts from Daraguru" at the University of the Northern Territory in 1996.

Implicit in Reconciliation are the elements, partially identified by the Governor- General. They include recognition of past wrongs and an apology for those wrongs, the acknowledgement of differences, the setting in place of a process of increased

understanding, arriving at a formally agreed set of words, maybe in a revised preamble to the Constitution, which express this understanding and to be genuine, giving proper consideration to the provision of compensation, reparation or the means to establish an independent economic base for Aboriginal people in the future.

Now in some Parliaments and towns, apology has happened. But as a nation the need to consider these steps has not been fully accepted.

So for us the question simply is: Can modern Australia, peacefully, settle the account and square up to the facts of our history and accommodate the interests of those people whose land we took but with whom it is jointly shared?

I believe we can, but it requires an extra effort from all people of goodwill to be active in the movement towards reconciliation.

At present there seems to be some kind of surreal idea floating around which insists that there can still be in 1998 a quasi-static Europeans only rural/suburban nirvana. Here the clock can be turned back and all those puzzling challenges like the greenhouse effect, el nino, increasing numbers of refugees, continuing unemployment and so on can really be sorted out if we stop pandering to fringe groups and minorities and simply get on with running the country like a business.

When we really need leadership to draw out a path and start sketching a twenty-first century identity that goes to the core of our historical experience and our aspirations, instead we often find the people's representatives have retreated into their bunker, wrapped themselves in cotton wool and the union jack and put up a white flag which says compassion for our own indigenous people is a luxury, like education and a healthy environment, that we, the nation who has one of the highest standards of living in the world

cannot afford. Oh woe to the nation that swallows this bitter pill. Aren't we so much more than that?

I would like to think we are.

Whereas the traditional ideas of Australian identity have been located in a mythical past or constructed out of ideals of literature or from sporting endeavours or even from beer and TV ads, there has up to this time been little mention of the foundation culture in our notion of what it means to be Australian.

But already this is changing. As we present ourselves to the world as a desirable location to visit, as we host the Olympic Games and so forth, we increasingly do so by use of Aboriginal/Australian images. Images whose deeper meanings of respect for land and culture we continue to deny for as long as we postpone the reconciliation reckoning.

Are we to baulk at this key moment, and thus fail to cross the bridge to the other side, or can we successfully make the journey so that we can move on to other urgent tasks at hand. What a tangible and positive sign of national identity reconciliation would be!

It is time then to draw on the best of Australian traditions of tolerance and serving community. They can be found in numerous volunteer organisations like Meals On Wheels or Life Line. Adaptive traditions which featured uniquely Australian responses to the challenges of the day like the establishment of the Flying Doctor Service. And finally from the tradition of sacrifice displayed by the ANZAC's and continued to the present day most notably in volunteer bush fire brigades' courage and heroism.

Moreover we will need to draw on the tremendous energy and capacity of youth already displayed before our eyes. Our young people excel in sport, are creative music-makers, and can be found on the front-line of struggles to preserve our precious environment. The kind of selfless action of a boy of 12 in Townsville only last week rescuing people from the floods with no thought for personal safety or financial reward provides evidence enough of the qualities of young Australians.

Once thought of as inhospitable and not worthy of settlement Australia has now become a beacon for people, drawn to our tolerant, free and vibrant society. They are enchanted by the place, by the people, by the beauty of our natural heritage. For we are stable and we are peaceful and we rightly celebrate all these endowments on Australia Day.

It's ten years down the track and I'm again meeting my friends from abroad who are returning for a holiday. I'm pleased to tell them we eventually negotiated a transition to a constitutional Republic with overwhelming agreement. We have repaired relations between Black and White and town and country and we are bringing our rivers back to life and children swim freely in Sydney Harbour.

We still face problems and doubtless others will emerge but we are walking in the "Avenue of the Fair Go proud of our ancient indigenous heritage, firmly committed to the ideals of caring for community and country, to the preservation of democratic freedoms and endeavouring to cast a peaceful disposition to our neighbours.

That's all well and good, our visitors answer and it's what we would expect from a nation so singularly blessed in the world, but the important question we want to ask is; do you still have those astonishing places where families can pull off the road, gather under the gum trees and enjoy food and each others company? Do you still have the barbecue area?.

And my answer is, we do.

Happy Birthday Australia.

FOOTNOTES

  1. Neibuhr

  2. Kenneth Slessor 3 A D Hope

  3. Wally Caruana

  4. Donald Horne

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