Sean Williams

ten reasons to call myself ‘un-australian’

posted on 27 Nov 2006 at 11:04 am

…whatever that means. (Here, here, here and here are four opinions on the matter.)

(1) I don’t drink beer. Having discovered in recent times that it makes me unwell, even at small doses, I’ve had to give my beloved Coopers Pale Ale the flick. I miss it on hot days, but otherwise feel much better for the lack of it.

(2) I don’t follow a football team of any code, despite the government’s confident assertion that “Australians love their ‘footy'”. The same site describes attending a football match as “[a] serious ritual, [which] involves proudly wearing team colours, barracking for favourite players, and engaging in enthusiastic cheering”. As someone who has friends who enjoy similar activities relating to science fiction television shows, but for which they are generally mocked, I can’t help feeling resentful of the hypocrisy.

(3) I experienced only short-lived (and, imho, entirely appropriate) moments of sorrow, the same one feels for any family of a person who dies unexpectedly, over the deaths of Peter Brock and Steve Irwin.

(4) I was raised in Adelaide and the Northern Territory, and as a result I feel little kinship with any of the characters from or the landscape portrayed in “The Man from Snowy River” (a point raised by Adrian Mitchell in his fascinating collection of essays Drawing the Crow).

(5) I am troubled by this country’s widely divergent attitudes towards Schapelle Corby and the Bali nine. Surely our national objection to the death penalty should not be contingent on whether the accused is a hottie or not.

(6) I have no interest in how Australia performs in the Olympics, the soccer, the cricket, and the Commonwealth Games. Nor does the Melbourne Cup hold any fascination for me, as a historical, cultural or social artefact.

(7) The conditions endured by a large percentage of Australia’s indigenous population fill me with a deep sense of shame. Our sweeping of the invasion of their territory under the cultural rug, likewise.

(8) I prefer winter to summer, and would much rather settle in by the fire with a good book and a glass of wine than join the glistening throngs in their thongs at the beach. Sweat and sand are a terrible combination, imho, although I do like fish and chips at sunset, over the west-facing coast of home.

(9) I didn’t vote for John Howard and I find the behaviour of this country under his leadership morally bankrupt, short-sighted and internationally embarrassing, not just on such issues as international justice for our fellow citizens and indigenous relations, but euthanasia, industrial reform, religion, welfare and the privatisation of public utilities. Bring back Paul Keating, I reckon.

(10) I am depressed by how, even in this list, sport demands far more attention than it deserves, over such issues as investment in science, the environment and international humanitarian crises.

There. That’s it. Am I proud of this list? Feeling superior for it? Not at all. It’s no fun feeling at odds with one’s own culture, as presented in the media and perhaps genuinely felt by most people. To paraphrase that fun old saw: you don’t have to like Cold Chisel , live on the East Coast, or eat Vegemite to be an Australian, but it helps.

(Having said all this, I am reassured to learn that, according to What Do You Think? I live in a country in which the following statements received strong support: both genders share equal responsibility for the care of children; we should be alert for but not alarmed by the possibility of a terrorist attack in Australia; democracy is threatened by the Coalition Government’s stranglehold on both lower and upper houses; tertiary education should be free, as it used to be; and the blue Wiggle is best.)