I'm now a Fair Dinkum Dinky-Di Aussie, as of midday today. What next? Down the beach for a barbie I think! Now let's start at the very beginning;
Australians all let us rejoice, for we are young and free;
We've golden soil and wealth for toil, our home is girt by sea;
Our land abounds in nature's gifts, of beauty rich and rare;
In history's page, let every stage, Advance Australia Fair,
In joyful strains then let us sing, Advance Australia Fair.
Fair enough, true words. But what is "girt"!!! (I hear on good authority the original word was "dirt" but they printed the letter upside down!). Australia does abound with nature's gifts....Sun, Coal, and Uranium, but not Water and Oil!! I've joined the country/club to help resolve this slight imbalance, as the world looks to us to produce the biggest gas guzzling cars. Kind of ironic. But then so is naming a swimming pool after a drowned Aussie Prime Minister, without the faintest hint of humour or irony! Actually, it looks like they'd already started building the swimming pool in his honour before he drowned (or was scooped up by a Chinese submarine!)
The ceremony was nice and simple. Introduction, Australian Citizenship Pledge, half the room "under God" and the rest can choose to not include God in their Pledge. Go up to collect your certificate. Sing the Anthem. Collect Tree! Well actually, it's a Corea Glabra twig in a little square plastic pot. Nice touch. Proud to be Aussie. I picked up a kids pack for the kids, who were born Aussie. A flag, ruler (not The Queen), posters and bookmarks, "Australians all let us rejoice". And of course my curiosity in the demographic mix of who wants to be a new Australian. And what a mix. Completely across the ages, races, colours,creeds, and religion. It looked just like in the adverts, and I felt the goodwill and the desire to make Australia an equal or better place for our kids. Just one problem....The Aborigines didn't show up, yet again. Ah but of course, they're already Australian, but only just, in 1967 or just before. And that's part of the problem. All the other races are embraced and welcomed except for the very race that was here first!
There is something seriously wrong with Australia in it's relationship to the Indigenous Australians. A buried and ignored history of abuse. I don't know what the answer is. Many politicians have tried and failed. It's all conveniently swept into the outback. Not totally true, but when you arrive in Australia you're looking for Skippy and Aborigines, and here in Melbourne there aren't any!! What happened? You can live a European life in the inner suburbs without realising where you actually live.
Now I'm Aussie, I can't whinge like a Pom. Try stopping me! The trouble is, Aussies don't complain much. They're happy with their lot, unless they lose at cricket, and the crunch came when Harmison was steaming in for the first ball of the First Test. Which way would I swing....."C'mon Harmison send it up 'em." Bloody Hell. So I've become Aussie. Even Aussie football was better to follow in the World Cup!
And it's great here, you get all the perks of England. The Queen, The Union Jack, UKTV. And they get you to sign up to vote before the ink is dry on your Aussie Certificate. So I'm off to compulsorily vote for a Republic. Not sure who to have as Head of State, maybe Rolf Harris or Germaine Greer.