Opinion

The anti-Australian behaviour of Bandt and Thorpe

Why anybody is surprised that Senator Lidia Thorpe’s admission that she became a senator to “infiltrate the colonial project” is, in itself, surprising. The same goes for the reaction to Adam Bandt’s refusal to stand in front of the Australian flag at a recent press conference on the grounds that it represents “a lingering pain” for some Australians.

They should not be surprised because this overt anti-Australian behaviour and rhetoric from the elite in this country is hardly new. It has been going on for decades.

We witnessed it back in 2007 when the ‘Big Day Out’ suggested that people leave their Australian flags at home. We see it repeated every year on January 26 when city dwellers decide that Australia Day should be called ‘Invasion Day’, and demand that reparations be paid to Indigenous Australians. We see it when woke inner-city councils refuse to hold their citizenship ceremonies for new citizens on our national holiday. This movement manifests in our public spaces, when statues deemed as ‘white oppressors’ are graffitied and vandalised. We see it every time Captain James Cook is accused of racism and genocide. We see it over and over again.

But mostly we see it when we take the trouble to examine our education system. It is producing generations of adult Australians who believe that the existence of modern Australia is a terrible mistake, or even a crime, which should be endlessly deplored and apologised for.

School children graduate with little to no knowledge of the social, economic or political conditions which led to the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788. Instead, they are led to believe that the First Fleet constituted an invasion, and that the British embarked upon a deliberate program of dispossession and genocide. The latest version of the National Curriculum (Version 9) contains within it a powerful but subtle thread which is woven into all learning areas that we occupy stolen land and should not really be here.

This message is repeated ad nauseam in the history departments of our universities, where Australian history is not only taught through the lens of race and gender, but also from the angle that Indigenous history can only be discussed with ‘resistance’, ‘colonisation’ and ‘frontier wars’, as frames of reference. Co-existence and co-operation are never mentioned.

In a subject called ‘Global Histories: First Nations and Colonisation’ which was offered by the Australian Catholic University a couple of years ago, students were asked the following questions: ‘How did Indigenous peoples survive long periods of oppression and lack of access to land and resources? In what ways were they required to fight back, and how did they employ various modes of resistance or self-determination?’ Such subjects are a dime a dozen.

Adam Bandt and Lidia Thorpe are, therefore, products of a typical Australian education. They are simply repeating what they have been taught about this country’s history. Bandt knows full well that the flag is a unifying symbol of Australia, but neither he nor Thorpe want unity. They are the voices of separatism, which is in effect what the ‘Voice to Parliament’ is. Is it one flag or many, or is it a single nation, or many?

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