How easily does it slip off the tongue, that overused expression, “It’s so un-Australian.” So what does it mean apart from “I don’t like whatever so and so has said or done.”? And it’s always stated with an air of superiority as if being un-Australian is as low as one can go.
If we can instantly recognise something as being un-Australian, an assertion I seriously doubt, then why do we have so much trouble identifying what is Australian? Our Immigration Minster, Kevin Andrews, wants all potential Aussie citizens to learn some facts about Australia and I see nothing wrong with that. Information in itself is usually a benefit, but I wonder whether it has anything to do with making a good Australian citizen.
I remember those awful TV ads which invite foreigners to apply for Aussie citizenship by telling them all the benefits of becoming legally Australian. In today’s “The Weekend Australian Magazine” there is a full page Australian Government advertisement inviting people to become citizens by offering to secure their family’s future. For that, read free education, free health treatment, subsidised housing etc. You can broaden your employment options which means you are entitled to the dole and to all the free services that unemployment offers. You get free consular support which means that Australia will have to fork out millions of dollars to bring you back home if you are visiting Hezbollah-held territories in Lebanon. And Wow! you have the right to vote, which means that you can put up for election a supporter of Sheik Al-Hilaly, as was threatened recently.
The reason that I think these ads are awful is because they seem to be pleading with people to take up citizenship, instead of treating citizenship as a privilege which one has to earn. I don’t believe that people should be persuaded to become citizens. On the contrary, the would-be citizens should be honoured by being accepted.
Furthermore, I wonder how Australia can benefit by granting citizenship to foreigners who have to be enticed. It simply puts a financial burden on the rest of Australians.
Knowing the history and the geography of Australia and the words of Waltzing Matilda should have nothing to do with it. If an immigrant chooses to be Australian, then he will learn all about the culture, once he has been exposed to it and especially after learning the language. It’s what every genuine new citizen wants to do anyway. The majority of migrants want to fit in and so will absorb whatever is around them.
If that is not the case, however, then those people have chosen to remain outside our society and we should seriously question why they are here in the first place before agreeing to their citizenship. It’s not easy to do that without appearing prejudiced. In fact it’s impossible and so once they are accepted as citizens, we are stuck with them. So perhaps there should be an apprenticeship period. Something like a P-plate licence but for a longer period during which their eligibility can be reassessed.
Admittedly this is is a simplistic solution because citizenship will have to be granted at some stage and a clever anarchist will bide his time and even manipulate the system by marrying an Australian, but at least citizenship won’t be the walkover it is now. There is probably a valid argument also for marriage to an Australian not being sufficient qualification for becoming a citizen.
The lenient system in the past is responsible for creating two problems. The first is that what is easy to obtain is not valued and in the past almost anybody was invited to become a citizen. The second problem is that we have among us today, so-called citizens who don’t respect democracy and who would like to transform our country into a caliphate ironically like the ones that they deserted. What a paradox!
When I think of Aussie values, I must admit that I’m stumped and that is why it’s so much easier to describe something as being un-Australian. Let’s say that a old pensioner (oh how overused that term is!) is bashed up for her $5 in her shabby purse. There’s an outcry that such a vile bashing could happen. I’s so un-Australian! But I can’t think of any country in which bashing up an old person is not frowned upon. So it’s un-British, un-American, un-French. Actually it’s unacceptable in any civilised society.
In my opinion, therefore, un-Australian really means unacceptable and that’s how such things should be described. Unacceptable, no more no less.
Moreover, if such awful things are perpetrated in Australia, then what makes them un-Australian? We should admit that what we really mean is that such things should not happen in Australia. Of course, they shouldn’t occur anywhere else either, so in a sense we are trying to convey that we should be better than we are.
Can’t argue with that notion, cause there’s always room for improvement outside Utopia.
It’s about time that we were more truthful about what we mean when we denounce something as being un-Australian. And if we believe that being Australian is such a big deal then we shouldn’t be so slack about our citizenship criteria. Being familiar with facts about Australia is certainly not enough. It will just make one proficient at Trivial Pursuit.