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Flag, stockade or discovery: Australia’s Eureka dilemma

Like many writers I require a Eureka moment of insight to write an essay for The AIM Network. This morning, 6/08/2020, I found inspiration in the words of Richard Cooke.

In his long-form analysis of the fate of the arts, titled A unitary theory of cuts published in the August edition of The Monthly Cooke enumerates the singular policy of the IPA/Morrison Government, namely absolute victory in the Culture Wars.

I urge you to read Cooke’s discourse which although thorough, misses one vital point.

Cooke does not mention the suspension of the Australian Parliament. And it is this void in the life of the nation which gives the IPA/Morrison Government a free hand to dismantle the ABC, the Arts and the Public Service — the trinity of its Culture War targets. Add to this the dismemberment of Australian universities, and the future of this wide brown land appears distinctly bleak.

And so to the remainder of the Eureka metaphor.

In the United States, Brazil, the Philippines, Iran, and Turkey – the list is long – COVID-19 is being deployed as a shield to further the aspirations of right-wing nationalist governments. The same is happening in Australia. A casual read of the propaganda output of the Murdoch/IPA/Morrison Government, reveals non-stop criticism of the Andrews Government of Victoria as well as the feisty government of Annastacia Palaszczuk in Queensland. Mark McGowan the Premier of Western Australia, is Satan Incarnate, and yet there is little by way of criticism of the Liberal premiers of New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania. The Labor governments of the ACT and the Northern Territory, daily endure local press vilification.

But it is Victoria, home of the Eureka Stockade, which is enduring the worst of the twin plagues of COVID-19 and daily attacks in The Australian newspaper led by an entitled brat named Adam Creighton. And let’s not forget the egregious contributions of Tim Smith MP, Rowan Dean, Andrew Bolt, and Miranda Devine and so on and so on. Worst of all are the actions of the so-called wolverines hell bent on matching Chinese nationalism with their own post-modern Australian version of jingoism. But this propensity for provincialism can spin out of control, and morph into something far darker than attacks on cultural icons.

In the absence of a federal parliament Australia has the National Cabinet, which thus far is keeping much of the country safe from the ravages of the COVID-19 plague. But as the virus spreads in Victoria, old enmities of the pre-Federation era are emerging. None more so than the sniping between Annastacia Palaszczuk of Queensland and Gladys Berejiklian, Premier of New South Wales. Each year both states play out this old rivalry in the Rugby League State of Origin series. Palaszczuk seems to understand the politics of this visceral combativeness far better than her counterpart, the NSW State Member for Willoughby.

Ms Palaszczuk is ramping up appeals to the innate patriotism of Queenslanders, especially those who live in far northern regional seats where the Eureka flag is worn by workers as a tattoo and displayed as a logo on the back of many a ute and four wheel drive.

This brings me back to Victoria, birthplace of the Eureka notion, and Premier Dan Andrews.

Each day Andrews faces a phalanx of television cameras to update his fellow citizens on the ravages of COVID-19. And each day he answers hundreds of media questions from the likes of Adam Creighton and his ilk, in a way that makes the Federal Parliament’s Question Time look insipid. Andrews has the uncanny knack of speaking directly to his fellow citizens.

When Dan Andrews said he would not put his parents into an aged care home in Melbourne, he spoke truth to tragedy.

The nationalist push by ScoMo and his enablers, especially in Victoria, might well result in a political manifestation long pursued, but thus far not attained; namely an Australian Republic. More than a century on, this phrase from the Ballarat Reform League Charter lies at the heart of contemporary Victorian identity; that it is the inalienable right of every citizen to have a voice in making the laws he is called upon to obey.

With a Federal Labor Party waiting in the wings with a broad suite of far-reaching and easily modified public policies, a shocked and possibly impoverished electorate will not make the same mistake twice.

By the time the next Federal election comes around, I’m fairly confident every citizen, like the diggers at the Eureka Stockade, will clamour to ensure they too have a genuine voice in making the laws [all] are called upon to obey.

Henry Johnston is a Sydney-based author. His latest book The Last Voyage of Aratus is here.

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  1. Matters Not


    have a genuine voice in making the laws

    Really? How many of the decisions enacted since the last election were actually discussed before or during the last election campaign? Did we get the chance to voice our endorsement or otherwise re the decision to spend $270 billion on new war toys?

    Must have missed that opportunity. Perhaps someone has a link? Or is it the case we have a representative democracy but in name only?

  2. Ken

    Very well said Mr Johnston

  3. Roswell

    Good post, Henry. Lots of truth.

  4. Roswell

    Matters Not, I don’t quite follow you. Might have something to do with you being selective in your choice of words.

  5. Carol Taylor

    Excellent analogy. Same as the Eureka Stockage, hopefully we will rebel due to have being deprived a voice. I suspect that as the forthcoming Depression will effect the LNP’s traditional voters, people thrown into the debacle which is JobSeeker for the unemployed and their ‘providers’, the LNP’s days are numbered. Scotty has been able to avoid the democratic process of a voice of the people, but he can’t avoid this for very much longer.

  6. wam

    The ABC darwin has the only NT TV coverage. 7 is melbourne and 9 is brisbane. The news producers, in the main, are from murdoch’s.
    paper NT News
    Over the last two night the current clp leader and a previous leader sacked in 2013 were featured giving election speeches on the news. It appears to compensate for the lack of clp/mills propaganda on 7/9 and is as if rupert already has bought the ABC.
    The radio is even further right on most comments.

  7. Andrew Smith

    I’d be concerned how many who worship the Eureka flag, the stockade and ‘Australian values’, while holding some tasty antagonistic views towards the ‘other’. Shows the success of IPA, LNP and NewsCorp negative messaging, nudging, influencing and constant reinforcement over the decades turning less educated Anglo/Irish heritage Australian workers and middle class into cultural warriors for the LNP?

    Achieved by promoting their individualism, income or prosperity and benefits (at the expense of unions, social security etc.) then back grounded by much noise about ‘refugees’, ‘immigrants’, changing demographics or ‘great replacement theory’, ‘lefties’, ‘environmentalists’ etc.

    Much of Trump’s and the GOP’s success (and Brexit) in recent decades has been through weaponising ‘white’ workers and middle class on cultural issues (so they do not vote Democrat, if at all, aka Trump’s narrow victory) through tabloid media while allowing negative economic policies e.g. tax breaks for the wealthy to pass.

    No coincidence this resonates with the Koch Networks (includes IPA/CIS) multi faceted tactics over many years to influence and game the electorate negatively for the right outcomes. As the Kochs learnt decades ago, any party or MPs that ran openly on their libertarian low tax and smaller govt. platform, would never gain more than 5% of the vote (let alone with promoting open racism or white nationalism too)….. hence a disparate and seemingly contradictory coalition of support, with different public manifestations, who can be reached by nuanced media messaging, especially in social media (think Cambridge Analytica).

    Australia is especially prone now with unearned advantages given to NewsCorp etc. that precludes any depth or breadth of media, let alone an informed electorate.

  8. ajogrady

    The unedyfing vulgarity of the coalition between the MSM and the L/NP has now morphed into a fascist entity that is destroying Australians and their living standards rapidly. Democracy in Australia is now a distant memory if it really ever existed.
    Scotty from marketing,the penticostalot Pinocchio, with his conga line of corrupt theives and con artists masquerading as a government are doing what they do best, deceiving and destroying gullible Australians lives and livelihoods while they funnel taxpayers monies into the pockets of L/NP donors who mostly do not pay taxes. Corruption 101. All with the MSM’s blessing and co- operation. The insanity of Australians voting for the party that does not respect them and worst of all does not represent them has got to stop.
    Two words describe the L/NP mindset and actions.
    A term used to refer to intellectual blindness.A hardening of the mind against unwanted wisdom.
    the clever use of arguments that seem true but are really false, in order to deceive people.
    This is governance at its worst and Australians voted against their own best interests, AGAIN!!!!

  9. Josephus

    Re war toys- given the paranoia and donations successes by arms manufacturers and their toadies a referendum on this might just win.
    Populism has nothing to do with informed democracy. Populism has as we all know become the norm , reminding of the dark 1930s, though it goes back at least to the Romans.
    Re suspending Parliament, it is noteworthy that tinpot would be dictator Boris in the UK tried to suspend the UK Parliament, but was prevented by the nation’s highest Court, whose magnificent spokesperson Judge made a long and eloquent speech saying that the last time Parliament was suspended was under Cromwell, and that Boris had no legal grounds for attempting the same.
    In Australia there is no Bill of Rights and an ever encroaching, unaccountable ruling cabal of self serving,
    corrupt and selfish individuals. Lone voices that do not fit that mould are in the minority. The seats in Parliament do not correspond to votes cast, plus the strongly right wing media have a huge influence. In so many eateries I find that the only newspaper to hand is the usually abysmal Telegraph.

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