How I came to know Australia

My fellow-bloggers may also be interested to understand how I could claim to be able to know Australia as it was, and is. For simplicity, I present my core experiences in point form.

• Studied Australia in high school (part of a colonial education program)
• Exposed to discrimination in service in shops and in finding accommodation, and some personal abuse and denigration in both public and private spaces during the immediate post-war White Australia era
• Experienced a strange display of colonial superiority – in skin colour (!), culture, religion, and food – by ordinary Aussies in that period.
• Yet, when I was a tram conductor and worked in factories in that same period, there was no prejudice displayed by my co-workers
• Thus, I came to respect the ‘stand tall’ stance and ‘fair-go’ ethos of the Australian worker, who generally dealt with foreigners as they found them. Other Western nations might follow suit.

• Was subsequently rejected as a psychologist because I was ‘too black’ (I am a light tan), and later as an economist in the private sector because ‘the Australian worker is not yet ready for a foreign executive, particularly a coloured one.’ Both experiences were corroborated reliably.
• Accepted as a graduate entrant in to the federal public service. Was then promoted at a very rapid rate. I worked at the level of Director for 22 years in a career of 31 years. Denied entry into the Senior Executive Service twice (through challengeable procedures) .
• At 52, I met my first employment racist ever (in the public service!), and then suffered from tribal discrimination from some for whom the word ‘mass’ had great weight. Australia was well known for its sectarian religious divide.

• My work over 14 years dealing with the private sector took me to the manufacturing and service sectors, giving me a great understanding of the Australian economy.
• My policy work during 9 years on migrant settlement policies (including citizenship, and multicultural affairs) gave me an in-depth exposure to inter-community relations within a necessary framework of integrated ethno-cultural communities. Dealing with policies on refugee and humanitarian entry highlighted the opportunism and political flexibility involved.
• My involvement in civil society (mostly in leadership positions) rounded off my insight into Australia at the educational, sociological, communal, and personal levels. (It is not often that one is invited to a luncheon with the Governor-General of Australia.)
• My work on merit protection in the federal public service (7 out of 10 years as chairman) led to me receiving a Meritorious Service Award from my trade union. Yet, I am a communitarian, small-l liberal, and thereby a political orphan.

• Part 2 of my memoir ‘The Dance of Destiny’ sets out my complicated trajectory through a maturing Australia. (Part 1 covers life under the British, and then the Japanese Military Occupation of Malaya.) The book was recommended by the U.S. Review of Books, and received wondrous other reviews.
• My book on Australian society ‘Musings at Death’s Door,’ reflecting more than 6 decades of my adult life in my adopted nation, received the accolade ‘There is wisdom here’ from a renowned academic (also an author on politics and history). This book was also recommended by the U.S. Review of Books.
• The 2 books are available as ebooks from Amazon Kindle Direct at $US 2.99 each.

Life is for living, is it not?

Policies and politics

Moving from the sublime to the mundane, no one but the relatives of politicians would demur at a recent report by the Australian media that politicians are very lowly regarded by the public. Yet, recently the Australian Government demonstrated that it is not easily swayed by the ‘rent-a-crowd,’ or ‘glee club,’ or other not-so-disinterested supporters of free entry into the nation (with an associated right of access to all its generous unearned welfare benefits) of anyone who chooses to land on its shores without prior approval.

It is not often, as alleged by the media and other keen observers, that sound policies are substituted for crafty politics. Generally, no amount of public criticism is likely to be effective in preventing or avoiding decisions which are claimed by those who have no political axe to grind to be inequitable or simply inadequate.

For example, at the federal level, a foreign-controlled mining industry, the liquor and gambling industries, the welfare industry, the private schools industry, etc., ensure quite successfully that their interests are not damaged in any substantive manner by any proposed change in official policies. The most influential foreign entity, apart from our godfather (the USA), is that mini-sovereign state based in Rome. Media reports hint that, at the State and local government levels, there is often some undue favouritism displayed. But, isn’t all this politics?

Having had a highly interactive and contributory life in Australia, as an adult, for more than 6 decades, I am able to ask why, collectively, our politicians are seen to be so subservient. Compare their stance with that of the traditional Anglo-Australian worker; he stands tall, is equal to one and all, and is also a beacon to workers in neighbouring nations. (Read chapter 1 in Musings at Death’s Door) Yet, I can attest that the politicians and Ministers I have dealt with are nice people. Indeed, a Senator once had a federal Cabinet decision reversed when I (as an ordinary citizen) challenged its legality.

It is, however, creditable that there is, with some rare exceptions, no evidence of corruption politically – at least of the kind reported to be evident elsewhere in the world. Perhaps we should respect out politicians more!