typing is not activism….

environ mentalism, fresh articles, interviews & checkitouts from Sydney.

Goodbye John Howard! Hello unexpected but long-overdue ‘Sorry’!!

with 3 comments

Silver-tongued Bob Ellis has freshly penned a perfect post mortem for the election we never need have again and for the departure of that little weasel who we’ll never have to vote out again. It starts like this:

And so it goes; and went.

And what did we learn?

Maxine, Mike Kelly, Bob Debus, Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Windsor showed good candidates help, whatever the swing. Mike Bailey, Rodney Cox, Peter Tinley showed good candidates don’t always win if the swing they need is too large. Mal Brough showed even vast talent goes down to defeat when a huge swing is on. Nicole Cornes, George Newhouse, Karen Chijoff, John Howard showed really bad, dead-cat candidates lose, whatever the swing.

And it just gets better from there – definitely worth a read, especially for anyone who feels the glow from Saturday may be fading, and for anyone unsure as to what there is to be pleased about.

On the other side of the world, Tasmania’s proudest export, novelist Richard Flanagan (of Geoffrey Cousins-influencing fame – the environmental activist millionaire, not the snorting hero) has just had a fresh piece published in the highly respected UK Guardian newspaper. Flanagan’s deft bluntness with language, his passion for forest ecosystems, and his disdain for malignant governance are a deadly team and well worth seeing in action. He translates Australian politics for the rest of the planet in the first tree-free piece he has written in some time:

At the end of his concession speech, Howard claimed to have left Australia prouder, stronger and more prosperous. But it didn’t feel that way. It felt like it had been a lost decade. It felt like the country was frightened, unsure of what it now is, unready for the great changes it must make, and ill-fitted for the robust debates it must have.

There was a strange sense that Australia, which had seemed so often to sleepwalk, mesmerised, through the past 11 years, had suddenly woken up. But where it might go and what it might do and be, no one any longer knew.

This week, the new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has also promised a full and substantial apology to Aboriginal Australians and particularly the Stolen Generations. He has foreshadowed a period of thorough and broad consultation with indigenous leaders and communities to ensure that the message – which he has affirmed will categorically contain the word ‘Sorry’ – be properly expressed. This is truly fantastic news and promises a radically sounder foundation for future development of Australian culture than the one that has been laid over the last 11 years.

I personally hope that from the era of ‘Sorry’ it will be a natural progression to an era of ‘Thankyou’. As much as Australia is this richly diverse melting pot, there is a core of what it is to be Australian that wouldn’t be there if this land actually had been vacant when James Cook declared it to be such. Where’d your nasal twang come from, eh?
And without meaning to harp on the negatives or be hateful to the elevated oil stain now wiped from our windscreens, Phillip Adams at The Australian has written a farewell which stands out from almost all others thanks to the unique perspective of an anecdote starring Nelson Mandela, Malcolm Fraser, and – you guessed it – John ‘Oil Stain’ Howard.

Written by typingisnotactivism

November 29, 2007 at 3:15 am

3 Responses

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  1. These last eleven years have deepened my understanding of Australia to its bedrock. Beyond this it is dream, the never-never, the attempt to forget-the endless cycle of pain and forgetting, the endless drought and flooding rain of hatred and hysteria, and that saddest of all Australian customs the belated making of amends that wither in its heat like its landscape. I have grown-up Johnny, thanks to you, and I will never be the same again. One day we will make a country if there remains an earth to make it in-one day if we can bear it-and your tutelage of all the miseries of all our beginnings, your object lessons of servitude, humiliation, hatred and guilt will spur us on.

    David Fitzpatrick

    December 9, 2007 at 11:54 pm

  2. […] seven square in the nuts, but this comment by David Fitzpatrick of Deakin University in response to this previous post is just, well… please do read it for yourself. These last eleven years have deepened my […]

  3. Yes, I suppose it does read like an imprecation-the darkest of odes-there is something deeply mythic about john-boy, and I am overjoyed he is gone. There was something evil about him nevertheless, something revelatory, something that went beyond the banality of the man himself, something that he doubtless unwittingly tapped into, something you can almost feel sorry for him for, but something that unfortunately lingers. I hope he retires into comfortable and relaxed obscurity and I hope we recover and find a way to weather the coming storms with fairness and compassion-but I am far from complacent.

    David Fitzpatrick

    December 10, 2007 at 1:03 pm

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