Straya Now

written in 2014

I am a citizen of the world,
one of the privileged ones.
I am a citizen of Australia,
it’s where I was born.
This gives me certain rights
and the right I cherish most
is the right to criticise my government
when it does cruel things:
to those who are Indigenous
to those who have disabilities
to those who are impoverished
and those sans papers who come on boats.

The Intervention in the Northern Territory
demonises and denigrates the first Australians.
The neglect of people with disabilities
demeans them and those who ignore the neglect.
The stigmatising obligations imposed on those who are poor
belittles them and drains decency from those who do the imposing.
The refusal to honour refugee conventions and offshore processing
is intended to drive asylum seekers mad –
it is a crime against humanity.

My country once had a proud reputation of accepting refugees.
From 1972 until 1996 Australia attempted to abolish poverty.
The Gillard Labor Government promised to help people with disabilities.
From 1972 until 1996 we started to rectify past injustices to Aborigines.
We were once a people who celebrated egalitarianism,
we said that Jack was as good as his master.
We sang “Waltzing Matilda” admired Ned Kelly
and doffed our caps to no-one.