Sunday, February 21, 2010

Australia - The Country That Gives Away Its Soul

Countries are usually proud of their history; of their culture; of their traditions. They act to preserve them and to grow them. They put them on show. They wear their heart on their sleeve.

Australia has long had that reputation - Aussies love Australia and are happy to tell the world just how great their country is. And it's not just talk - Australia is a great country with a lot going for it - despite the best efforts of its political leaders to drag it into the mire.

Yet, Australia is also a country that seems quite content to give away its soul. And here's why I say so.

Australia is the home of Vegemite - now owned by ...... well, not Australia.

Waltzing Matilda is its national song if not its national anthem and as part of Australia as any song could be - and owned by ....... well, not Australia.

Australian Crawl's wonderful hit and tribute to Australia 'Down Under' may be buried down under (the ground) due to alleged and tenuous links to the classic Australian folksong 'The Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gum Tree-ee'. Anywhere else and the original 'owners' of the folksong's copyright would be complimented but here in Australia its all about money. Again, Australia sells its soul.

Then there's the Aboriginal Flag. The indigenous population of Australia have had it bad from the start. If genocide is too strong then massacre is not - of history, of culture, of society and of family. One of the best tributes to the indigenous population of Australia would be to propagate the so-called 'Aboriginal Flag' - to make it synonymous with Australia, to bring the indigenous brother into everyday experience rather than just a 'problem' on the news or a photo from the outback. But those who own the flag seem more interested in money than turning it into the flag that will remind the nation of the mistakes of the past and its responsibilities of the future. If the owners of this flag are Australian - as opposed to Vegemite or Waltzing Matilda - then they have sold out to the mighty dollar. How well we have taught our indigenous peoples to be like us. Again, Australia sells its soul.

Of course, the governments of the day have just stood by and given away Australian manufacturing. They've done the same with many of the service industries - I.T. support, Call Centres etc. No doubt when those overseas want to buy up our primary industries, our Government (whoever they are) will say - 'oh, yes, why not'. Australia really is the country that gives away its soul.

It would be nice if just for once, the country pulled together, grabbed a firm hold on its culture and history, and said 'Nope, these are for the people'.

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