Friday, September 15, 2006

Borg Australia

Recently in Australian politics the cry has been about citizenship. I don't know if it is the race card being fashionable or a sign of the times (maybe both). Both the Federal Government in this country and the opposition want more hoops to jump through before citizenship is awarded (why do I think of Starship Troopers now?)

4 years instead of 3 - I wonder what difference that makes? English language? Well that seems fair to a point so long as it doesn't become some kind of gravy train as I believe medical checks are (speaking to a colleague from East Germany), i.e. sending you to the priciest doctors. Let it be free.

However, what aspects of Australian culture will the new citizens need to be indoctrinated in, sorry, I mean learn. If we were honest and they wanted to learn REAL Australian culture it would be how to play the didgereedoo, find bush tucker, throw a spear or boomerang and paint dot art!

My point, what it means to be a citizen of a country can hardly be fixed for all time. Prime Minister John Howard holds the Greek community up as an example of integration here. Perhaps, but Melbourne is the largest Greek speaking city in the world behind Athens, with plenty out in force when Greece won the European Championship. Greek foods are now part of Australian cuisine (I love the fried cheese!). Haven't the goal posts shifted? Did they simply absorb the myth of mateship, meat pies and our sports? Not only that, they and every wave of immigration has added.

The difference this time is that Islam is objectified as the "other". Yes, terrorism comes from one end of the Islamic spectrum (as it does in many other religions). It strikes me that Islam is in the government's sites. Will any of this rigmarole lessen the risk of terrorism on our shores and forge a stronger national identity? Or will it foster more ill will. What will be required learning? Whose version of Australian identity? I doubt severely that you or I will have a say.

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