First, I have two announcements.
This year Anzac Day falls on Tuesday, 25th April.
This is one of two main commemorations for the BAC, the other being Australia Day.
BAC members should join their local RSL branch and get involved, even if occasionally. Get to know the personalities who make things happen, the secretaries, treasurers and other volunteer workers. The BAC and RSL are blood brothers and sisters. They are family. It can only further the BAC’s objectives if we lend support to the RSL. Even a few visits per year will make a difference.
So please attend the Anzac Day services. I find the Dawn Service especially moving.
The second announcement concerns the Minor Project Grant of the English Speaking Union, in Victoria. The ESU provides three grants per year, of up to $2,000. The deadline for this round of awards is 31st March. Application forms can be found here.
Projects should contribute to “the appreciation and promotion of the heritage, culture, identity and fellowship of the English-speaking peoples”.
Both Anzac Day and Australia Day are public holidays throughout Australia, because they mark signal events in our nation’s history. Anglo Australians took centre stage in those events because we were the nation, and still form its core.
To understand the significance of Australia’s founding in January 1788 and first great war, 1914-1918, we need to correct misconceptions advanced by Aboriginal activists such as Noel Pearson and conservatives such as once prime minister Tony Abbott.
In line with their civic nationalism, they both maintain that Britain supplied Australia with “values” or “institutions”. It is true that people of British Isles descent brought those two things, but primarily they brought flesh-and-blood people who worked, raised families, brought European civilisation and Britishness, and fought the wars.
Noel Pearson is a leading Aboriginal advocate of constitutional recognition and the voice. Pearson is approved by the multicultural political class. He is afforded prestigious platforms and is reviewed with reverence. He is a leading architect of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, upon which the voice proposal is based. Pearson recently argued his case in the Boyer Lectures.
Pearson’s voice proposal is based in significant part on dehumanising assumptions. This becomes clear when he proposes three sources of national identity. The first source, he states, is the First Nations, i.e. the peoples and cultures of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations. The second source consisted of Anglo institutions, such as parliamentary government and common law. Pearson notes British-derived culture but does not recognise the ethnicity – he would say the “race” – that made the country. The third source of identity consisted of post-Second-World-War immigrants.
This theory of Pearson’s omits Anglos as flesh and blood people. They contributed nothing, he states, except for institutions and culture. Pearson would have us believe that democracy, technology, language, common law and Christianity came as disembodied spirits, that they were not carried in the minds of ordinary people. On the contrary, settlers from the British Isles were Australia’s principal population for our entire history. British and other European settlers formed the demographic and cultural basis of the nation, from its origins in 1788 until well after the Second World War. Still today they form the core identity and cohesive bond of the nation. After all, it was they who mapped, named and built Australia. Indigenous peoples were granted citizenship in an emerging nation created by Anglos and other Europeans.
As for the third wave, it is true that the post-War migrants added to the nation’s culture, though they were the main beneficiaries of their migration. That’s why they came to Australia. The key point is that when the first post-War migrants arrived in the late 1940s, Australia had already been created through the sweat and toil of largely Anglo pioneers. The post-Second World War immigrants added to our culture and economy; they did not make the country. Australia had already fought two world wars. Every city, every state, was already in place and flourishing. We were a leading nation in terms of material progress, civil liberties, per capita contributions to science and technology, and dignified treatment of the indigenous population. Our nation was not perfect. But it was a functioning whole that, like the United States, Canada and New Zealand, demonstrated once again that British Isles people could flourish in environments far removed from their mother country.
Anglo identity is also misconstrued on the other side of the voice debate.
Tony Abbott was Liberal prime minister from 2013 to 2015 and before that a minister in John Howard’s government. His position on the voice proposal resembles Howard’s, that it should be contained in a preamble to the Constitution, not in the legally-binding body of the document. Creditably, in 2014 Abbott appointed an advisory body whose terms of reference would have required it to consult not only indigenous people but the broader community, “because the constitution belongs to everyone”. Abbott’s plan for the acknowledgment process to consult non-indigenous peoples was dropped by his successor, Malcolm Turnbull, who was Australia’s prime minister from 2015 until 2018. The result was that the process returned to the previous Labor government’s exclusive focus on indigenous interests, an approach that effectively disenfranchised Anglo-Australians and prevented genuine reciprocal reconciliation.
However procedurally worthy, Abbott was hindered by a false notion of Australia’s identity, due to him relying too much on the ideas of Noel Pearson. Abbott improves on Pearson, because his version of the Anglo component appears to allow that they contributed not only institutions but demography and culture. The preamble Abbott recommends is:
“Whereas the people … have agreed to unite in one indissoluble federal commonwealth, with an Indigenous heritage, a British foundation, and an immigrant character …”
Despite modification, this formulation is fatally burdened by Pearson’s original error. If anything, Abbott’s lack of ambiguity is more anachronistic than Pearson’s. The Commonwealth never had an indigenous heritage. It was forged entirely by Anglo (and other European) settlers and their native-born children. Neither did Australia of 1901 have an “immigrant character” that was much different to an Anglo character. Any honest acknowledgement of origins should dwell mainly on British settlement, while recognising the prior settlement and culture of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders and their interactions with the settlers.
These Liberal prime ministers were radically out of touch with the attitudes of Australia’s founders, who knew and valued their ethnic identities. The prime ministers failed to comprehend or care about the dire fall in relative Anglo numbers and rank in the ethnic hierarchy. Nor did they care about, empirically or intuitively, the dangers of rising ethnic diversity. The replacement of Anglo Australia could not have occurred without the failure of Liberal “conservative” leadership.
 Pearson, N. (2011). “Constitutional reform crucial to indigenous wellbeing.” The Weekend Australian, 24 December, p. 20. https://capeyorkpartnership.org.au/noel-pearson-constitutional-reform-crucial-to-indigenous-wellbeing-the-australian/, accessed 15.3.2023.
 Abbott, Tony (2022). Pass or fail, this referendum will surely leave us worse off, The Weekend Australian, 5 November, p. 16. https://www.theaustralian.com.au/inquirer/pass-or-fail-this-referendum-will-surely-leave-us-worse-off/news-story/761616d76aaa8e5e308ed9ce1d04c8ba, accessed 2.2.2023.