We’re all “real Australians”

That’s the title for my latest piece in Inside Story. Opening para

One of the most tired tropes in Australian politics involves identifying some part of the country (or a particular occupational or identity group) as the “real Australians” who must be catered to in order to win or retain government. In the last decade or so, we’ve been through rural and regional Australia, Western Sydney, Queensland, “tradies,” “people of faith” and probably a few I haven’t noticed.

14 thoughts on “We’re all “real Australians”

  1. Well, one must admit that holding up Queensland residents as exemplars of “real Australians” makes a change from a one-time Queensland Premier’s lament that “the problem is that people think of Queensland as being part of Australia”.

  2. But seriously (and staying in Queensland) some of the best performances by ALP candidates in the recent Queensland State election came in outer suburban seats that are held by incumbents from the party’s Left. Two examples are Gaven centering on Nerang on the Gold Coast, held by Meaghan Scanlon, a woman from the Left who is also a supporter of the Labor Environmental Action Network, and Bancroft in Brisbane’s outer northern suburbs, held by Chris Whiting. No doubt other examples could be provided, So much for the notion that Labor needs candidates from AWU/”Blue Labor” central casting to win in such areas.

  3. Yes, I have been called a ‘westie’ because I Live in Western Sydney. Many times my friends in other parts of Sydney, eg: North Shore or Inner city are shocked that I had travelled so far to come and perform at a folk club. It quite amuses me because I have lived in Adelaide before coming here and before that I lived in Tasmania. But befora all that I lived in Melbourne as my family migrated from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1962. I am quite proud to live in Western Sydney because its very multi-cultural and the food is great and you can even buy food stuffs from Sri Lanka , India and other exotic places. My neighbours next door are from Burma and my other neighbour is Australian. So its a happy place and we all get on very well.

  4. From the article linked: “In this context, it’s worth observing that despite spending most of the period since 2000 in opposition, Labor has averaged 49 per cent of the two-party-preferred vote in the seven federal elections held this century. If two in a hundred Australians had consistently voted differently, Labor would have been the dominant party.”

    My recollection might be off some, but in some of those elections did not fake labour do better than 50% of the two-party-preferred vote? An average of 49% over 7 elections also seems to imply that was the case. I think it was Howard who drove the point of his government’s legitimacy home after one of those elections in the noughties by observing that it was the number of seats won not overall votes that counted. Seats don’t have equal numbers of voters either. Roughly equal is not equal when it’s 50% +1 to win a seat. Those rules are there simply to entrench the liberal and liberal-lite duopoly. And some call this a democracy!

  5. The “Real Australians” language implies there are those who are not the genuine article, or those who are un-Australian. Helen Razer today also writing on things in Australia being defined by what they are not:

    “..There is this idea about language that they used to torture us students with in the West.

    All meaning, the air-wank explanation went, is a case of absence. We only know what a word signifies by knowing that it does not signify something else.”

    Revealed by the Wikileaks expose: The fragile, thieving ‘un-Australian’ lie
    6:00am, Nov 30, 2020 Updated: 8:30am, Nov 30

  6. The “Real Australians” have roots going back forty five thousand years or more. The rest of us mob are mere ring-ins.

  7. “One of the most tired tropes in Australian politics..” i respectfully suggest that in taking up this chestnut you are tisk of spreading yourself too thin. Give priority to the book.

  8. As a cheap fake Australian I rather resent being labelled “real”. I was made overseas, trained overseas and wasn’t imported until I was an adult (insofar as I’m an adult at all). I do have the official certificate signed by Amanda Vanstone recognising that I’ve committed a sufficiently serious crime to be accepted as Australian, though.

    What I find more interesting than who counts as real australians, is who is doing the defining. That’s where the real power lies, and it’s fun watching those people try to talk their way around accepting the responsibility for creating and enforcing the division.

  9. Sad fact is, the ALP is still yet to com to terms with educated voters who hope for rational economics/environment/ science with planning based on human need rather than subjective appetite involving the likes Adani, developers, mining agribusiness and marketers and consultants.

    It has failed at least since 1994 when David Beddall refused enviro minister Faulkner’s “forest tranches” list in favour of loggers and woodchippers later favoured by shortsighted politicians like Tasmania’s Paul Lennon.

    It would argue that it is wedged by developers seeking terms with the LNP and must pay heed of such a reality (and monetising opportunity) and the argument is true, but in a dumbed down society, the superstitious plebs are now wedded to the idea that enviro and rationality are oppositional to “development” and prosperity, with downstream costs well and truly obscured.

  10. The ALP has failed yes. But the populace at large has also failed. It has failed to vote for green policies in sufficient numbers. It has failed to resist the blandishments and temptations of rampant consumerism. Even now, more people are worried about having a holiday, buying smartphones, spending money, binging on entertainment, going to sport, buying and driving 4WDs and caravans and so on. The amounts spent on having a good time now are staggering. The amounts spent on preparing for the very difficult future (investments in clean technology, reusable technology and so on are derisory. We are finished. Fraser Island burns to the ground. Hardly anyone notices or cares.

  11. The Mayor Of Cairns hinted that the ALP government was seen by many northerners as “South East Queensland Socialist”. I had not heard that term before but it does suggest that the ALP has an image problem in some parts of Queensland after the opening of the borders. In NSW the ALP is seen to be too interested in Western Sydney and not interested at all in western NSW. I am sure similar claims could be made in other states and territories. Only the ACT seems to be hand made to fit the ALP like a glove. Being small the ACT does no easily lend itself to regional jealousies. The pandemic lockdowns showed that many view “rural” Australia as being more conservative in outlook when compared to “urban” Australia. But Australians have one unifying quality that seems to warrant the term “Real Australian”: All the Australians I have met seem to be convinced that they live in the best country on earth.
    Makes a change from David Horne jibe back in 1964:
    “Australia is a lucky country, run by second rate people who share its luck”
    The tall poppy syndrome may not be too far off being the defining characteristic of “Real Australians”:
    or at least of those who think only certain Australians deserve such a title. Though this should not be mentioned to people from New Zealand, Ireland and Scotland.

  12. Fair comment, Ikonoclast.

    It just amazes me the amount of “consent manufacture” if you like, the amount of manipulation of people that seems to go on if some resources are to be believed.

    The following is to do with just one small cog in a very complex apparatus across all of information, communications and spin in this country.


    I know much of the populace is lazy stupid blobs, but I won’t underestimate the intense and constant manipulation of culture by the morlocks to reinforce an easy going nature, a bit lazy, deskilled and desensitised, operating and now malfunctioning in a long term information vacuum.

  13. “f two in a hundred Australians had consistently voted differently, Labor would have been the dominant party.” …. or if the Nationals didn’t get a leg up in the electoral seat allocations.

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