What does it mean to be Australian? Whatís important to us as Australians?
Well youíd have to say a number of things to answer those questions wouldnít you? Our freedom matters. We love the fact that this is a land where weíre free to do what we want. Thatís certainly the reason that many migrants and refugees have moved here. Mind you, just as an aside, the interesting thing about our perception of freedom is that itís in the context of us being one of the most highly regulated countries in the world. Perhaps the secret there is that most of those regulations are actually created to ensure that weíre free to do what we want. Freedom doesnít imply an absence of law. Instead itís enabled by the right laws.
Part of our self identity is our love of leisure and especially of sport. We like to think of ourselves as a nation of athletes and outdoor types, even if the closest we ever come to the outdoors is driving down the road in our 4 wheel drive and the closest we come to sport is watching the Australian Open or the cricket on the television. But thatís our self image isnít it? Think about how patriotic we all got last Wednesday when Lleyton Hewitt and Alicia Molik were playing on Australia Day.
Mateship is something thatís very strong in our psychological makeup isnít it? A mate is someone who sticks by you. In The Age last Saturday there was an article on the Meaning of Oz. It gave a list of light hearted definitions of words that come out of our national mythology. Hereís what it said about mateship: "The redemption principle at work: that is, if only we were all mates the sins of the world could be forgiven." In other words, a mateís someone who sticks by you; who forgives you even when youíve done the dirty on him. Related to that idea is the "Fair Go". "A fair go is the ultimate Australian ideal. At least thatís the belief. In reality the fair go works on a sliding scale - the more you have, the fairer the go you will get."
But the thing I want to concentrate on today is the great Australian Dream: You all know the song donít you? Give me a home among the gum trees, With lots of plum trees, A sheep or two and a kangaroo, A clothesline out the back, Verandah out the front and an old rocking chair. Well, the quarter acre block has become the 8th of an acre block, but still we seem to have this innate need to own a parcel of land that we can call our own. Now of course this isnít just restricted to Australians, but it is something that we seem to specialise in. These days whenever an organisation holds a public ceremony in Australia thereís an expectation that the ceremony will start by acknowledging the traditional holders of the land. This is both to recognise the fact that they were dispossessed when British settlers first came here but also because of the importance to indigenous Australians of the ownership of land. But itís not just to indigenous Australians that ownership of land matters. So many migrants have been lured