Advance Australia – Where?


Yesterday I felt like hitting my head against a brick wall.

Today I was filled with hope as Helen and I squeezed into a packed hall for a Hypothetical called Advance Australia – Where? Dozens of people had to be turned away. The panel addressed Global Issues for Australian Citizens in This Election Year and it was clear that everyone was calling for a vision of citizenship that was more than just mateship.

The hall was filled with passionate and compassionate people who were concerned about fairness, integrity, respect, equity, democracy, generosity and kindness. NO ONE TALKED ABOUT THE ECONOMY. We are a very, very rich country. If we can’t afford to be kind and generous who can? We have no excuse for meanness.

The event started with us all singing the national anthem, Advance Australia Fair. There was quite a bit of chuckling and LaLa-ing as people realised they didn’t know the words to the second verse. When it came time for him to wrap up at the end of the session, John Valder actually read out the words for us and, considering the Hypothetical was put on by the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group it was very timely that the verse included “For those who’ve come across the seas / We’ve boundless plains to share;”

Beneath our radiant southern Cross,
We’ll toil with hearts and hands;
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands;
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To advance Australia fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing
“Advance Australia fair!”

One speaker called for Peter Garrett (rock star turned shadow environment minister) to write and perform a song that would help us to see ourselves differently. To give us a dream that would pull us onwards and upwards into something more generous. There was a real sense that there had been an almost irreperable dismantling of hope when the Howard Government ignored the wishes of the people and went into war with Iraq. People had marched like they’d never marched before to try and stop it and then they just gave up.


How does this sort of thing happen?

One Challenge that I found particularly compelling was the question of how can government help cultivate a global ethic that all cultures can share. It would need to be beyond law and would connect to ritual, place and story.

Helen and I spent a lot of time discussing the political process. We spoke to Kerry Nettle from the Greens and she confirmed what we’d both suspected – that letters have far more impact than emails. We talked to Fr. Frank Brennan who said that it was important to do the work on the ground, in communities. On the way to the Hypothetical we discussed developing the Blackheath Climate Action Group into a local council which would focus on relocalising. Rather than amalgamating councils, go the other way all together. It would be a means of strengthening community, supporting local business, reducing carbon emissions by reducing time out of town, making everything seem possible on a local level. At the same time it would help prepare communities for peak oil and global warming … lots of local food growing, shared transport etc In a way we’ve already started doing this but the idea of it being a Council just takes it further.


On the personal front my poor little Maxie has been very sick – lots of vomitting etc. I know this is very gross but I needed to clean up the carpet without chemicals. I’ve tried warm water and vinegar and left a small bowl of vanilla essence nearby to soak up the smell. If anyone can think of anything else I could do … heeeeelp!

Fortunately he was really happy because nearly two years ago I packed away one of his favourite jigsaw puzzles and today I pulled it out again for him … everything old is new again!


8 thoughts on “Advance Australia – Where?

  1. toni

    sprinkle bi-carb of soda onto smelly carpet (preferebly wet carpet) to absorb odours. Leave overnight then vaccuum.

  2. Clare Power

    I agree Lis, I also filled with hope as I left the Hypothetical, Advance Australia Where? I was inspired by the wit, wisdom and passion of the speakers and as always by the turn out of the Blue Mountains community at such events. I also feel a sense of urgency that people realise how important it is that Kerry Nettle be returned to the Senate in the upcoming election. She is a vital of integrity and compassion to Federal politics, as well her work on policy etc.

  3. Gail

    The Earth to America vido was BRILLIANT.

    Get well Maxie. For future problems, I find that well-diluting some Wool Mix with eucalyptus oil and putting it in a spray bottle (1woolmix:30water), cleans my woolen (and other material) carpets really well and also does reduce odours.

    I agree that the Howard Govt has lost or never had humanity or generosity especially to refugees. Most of them are genuinely seeking a better life – the percentage who are likely to cause problems is extremely small, but all are punished by our ..slow.. system of processing while they are detained in harsh conditions.

  4. Lynette Correy

    To add on to Toni’s suggestion, if you need to remove any powder residue after vacuuming the bicarb or any remaining odour, you can finish with a peppermint-scented vinegar rinse (or any other essential oil you like to cover the vinegar smell). Stomping on some old towels will soak up the rinse. I use vinegar (removes grease and prevents mould) and water about 1:10 with some tea tree oil (antiseptic)and scented essential oil (lemongrass and other citrus leave a nice fresh smell) to clean everything, with bicarb as an abrasive and absorber when needed.

    Permaculture provides some great ideas for ways of reorganising ourselves into local regions, while also integrating with people in other places. As Bill Mollison says in his manual “we need to act and think globally and locally”. I agree the time has come to start the ball rolling here. He is also in the process of starting a political movement, and as Clare says this election will also be crucial for retaining some Green in the Senate with Kerry, where the balance of power will have huge consequences for the politics of climate change.

  5. Daharja

    Get well Maxie. My two littles, Dragon (2 1/2) and Dawn (4 months) are sick too – it’s just that time of year.

    People are just ‘too busy’ to care, it seems.

    Too busy working. Too busy accumulating debt.

    Too busy buying the next fashion item. Too busy paying off the next fashion item.

    Too busy planning the next house extension/renovation/repaint/refit/restyle. Too busy paying for the next house extension/renovation/repaint/refit/restyle.

    Too busy going out to dinner because they’re too tired to cook because they work too long hours because they’re paying off the huge credit card debt because they spent too much money going out to dinner because they were too tired to cook.

    Too busy impressing their friends with their new car, while their friends are busy impressing *them* with *their* new car.

    Too busy taking holidays from their 50 hour weeks which they work to pay for the holidays.


    But what would I know? I’m just some whacked out Greenie!

  6. Lis

    Hey you fabulous Greenie you …. it’s so easy to get sucked into that life when it’s promoted all around you… I was. My motto now is agitate don’t renovate.Get well Dragon and Dawn. xxxxx

  7. Nada

    I find that the mindset of “a letter has more impact than an email”, extraordinary quite frankly.

    Form over substance? The superficiality of it is astounding.

    What does it say – if you use more resources to get your message across, it means you are more serious, genuine, committed?

    Following that logic, the Howard govt is committed to climate change + the environment, they’ve got the advertising budget and glossy brochures to post to prove!

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