Judges’ comments: With unstrained appreciation of the pervasiveness of British culture in Australia, Saxon Smith approaches his topic with youthful vigour but also youthful playfulness. These are what enable him to open out the limited contextual space in which he begins until it is large enough to encompass a challenge for his entire generation.
The judges also commended:
“English Tower Bells and Change Ringing” by Warne Wilson, Queensland
Each of Warne Wilson’s paragraphs is a charming miniature of one aspect of our culture, localised as much in the bells of our small country churches as in our great city cathedrals.
“Positive Aspects of British Heritage” by Peter H. Edwards
Peter H. Edwards bravely affirms the restraining influence of British culture on a raw frontier society. His sincerity on the issue of British settler relations with Aborigines is undeniable, and a challenge to those who prefer the weak option of a black armband.
From Everything to Nothing: The Positive Heritage of British Culture in Australia, by Saxon Smith (South Australia)
It is relatively easy to answer the question: what is the positive heritage of British culture in Australia. The short answer is: everything; that is, everything valuable, cherished, noble and worthy of preservation. British culture and traditions provide the sociocultural infrastructure and backbone to the Australian nation.
Here are some examples. The Australian legal system is derived from Britain, and although appeals from the High Court of Australia to Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council can no longer be made, because of the passing of the Australia Act 1986 in both the Australian and British parliaments, the foundation of Australian law is distinctively British. Our High Court in Sue v Hill (1999) held that Britain is a foreign power, within the meaning of section 44(i) of the Australian constitution, but the common law system and its modus operandi, is British.
The nation’s language, as much as the Asianist crowd may hate it, is English. English is the international language of science and technology. The major scientific journals, be they physics or medicine, are English language journals. Despite lip service about our Asian destiny that erupts from the orifices of ageing ex-prime ministers like bubbling toxic gas, English is also the language of world and Asian business. Learn an Asian language? I’ll learn one when Paul Keating and Mal (look up my name in a dictionary) Fraser learn two.
Our clothes are British in origin, not Asian, and even the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejab, wears a Western (i.e. British) suit, but rebels by wearing no tie. Our clothes are not those of the Australian Aborigine, however metaphysically enlightened and ecologically sensitive their culture may be, at least according to the sacred canons of politically correct secondary schooling.
What about sport and Australian culture? Australian Rules football may or may not have a British origin or connection, but cricket is English in origin, and nothing stirs up the blood of Australian cricket lovers like an Ashes match against England. To beat England is something of an eternal ritual of passage for Australia. But it is all good fun and an excuse to pour down our throats copious quantities of beer, a drink which was brought to Australia from the motherland. We drink our beer ice cold whilst the British like theirs warm, which may have something to do with the climate.
At Federation Australia ethno-racially was about 97 percent Anglo-Celtic, although there are debates about what exactly a “Celt” is. Let’s say 97 percent British. After World War II, Arthur Caldwell, Labour Minister for Immigration, and a blueprint for future politicians such as Paul Keating, scared the population with the cry of “populate or perish.” The idea here was that Australia needed a big population to deal with the coming threat of Asia, a taste of which was delivered by Japan in World War II. Thus while other countries learnt from World War II and understood the power of nuclear weaponry, Australia’s power elites developed a cargo cult mentality towards immigration. This became a new religion, which has spawned doctrines such as multiculturalism and Asianisation. The vast intake of non-British people since about 1947 has made us into, the elites say, a more exciting and rich culture. The metaphors used by them to describe this all are based on food, and the guzzling class love their rich fatty ethnic food and wine.
The food issue illustrates the deracination and deconstruction of the British people and culture which has occurred in recent decades. For example, media cook Jamie Oliver in his TV special, Great Britain: The West Country, travels through Britain to discover the dishes of his home country. But he starts the episode by saying that he doesn’t even know what it means to speak of British cooking because classic British dishes all come, according to him, from other countries. Thus, Oliver investigates the migrants who have the real dishes and culture and goes to Bristol to cook with a Jamaican chef. The subtext here is that the only real people in Britain are migrants and the native white people do not have a culture worth talking about. The same theme is pushed in a vast array of books and media.
People of Britain, including Australia, are being deracinated and dispossessed, by their own cultural elite. This may be the first time in history that this has happened without an outright invasion occurring, but then again maybe the invasion has been a quiet one and has already happened. British culture has given Australia everything worthwhile, but we now stand in danger of losing it all and ourselves as well. My generation, or that which is not brain-dead or brain-washed, will have to fight this or perish.
© Saxon Smith, 2012