July 12, 2003


The voices in Hugh Mackay’s head are getting louder:

With increasing frequency and growing vehemence, you hear people saying they are ashamed to be Australians.

Hugh denies, however, that he is among the ashamed:

I've never felt that way, and I still don't. I know too many passionate, committed, wonderful Australians ever to feel ashamed of being part of the place. I am too full of admiration for our scientists, our writers, artists, poets, playwrights, directors and filmmakers, our comedians, our farmers, our doctors and nurses, our schoolteachers and academics, our students, and even our smartest entrepreneurs, to feel despair about our long-term future.

Even our smartest entrepreneurs, eh? Generous of him. The cause of Hugh’s worry is illegal immigration:

There are an estimated 25 million refugees adrift in the world - 25 million people who, tonight, have nowhere to call home - and we're worried about the tiny handful that try to come here in little boats?

And if we let that tiny number enter without restriction ... what does Hugh think would occur with the 25 million? Many would head for Australia, via people smugglers. How many would die between Indonesia and Australia?

Posted by Tim Blair at July 12, 2003 04:15 AM

I especially fancy the "and even our smartest entrepreneurs" part. Yea, we know the poets, academics and playwrights are *so* much more admirable....

Regards / GulGnu

-Stabil som fan!

Posted by: GulGnu at July 12, 2003 at 04:40 AM

They can all move in to the house next door to Hughie.
Oh, the humanity!

Posted by: Pete at July 12, 2003 at 06:20 AM

I notice his rather long list does not include soldiers or sailors. He does include both "writers" and "poets": surely the latter are included among the former?

Posted by: Dr. Weevil at July 12, 2003 at 08:30 AM

I realised some time ago that Hugh was "too full of" something or other. Turns out to be "admiration". Huh!

Don't get carried away, Tim and GulGnu. Hugh only admires our *smartest* entrepreneurs. You can be as dumb as batshit as a "student" and Uncle Hugh will still beam upon you, but entrepreneurs really have to have the smarts to be good enough for Hugh.

Apparently, all this shame is about our approach to "refugees", hey? Last time I checked, Australia was doing more than every other country on Earth bar Canada (in per capita terms) to resettle some of those 25 million people. Our immigration program is still running at 12,000 refugee and humanitarian resettlements every year from the world's refugee camps and elsewhere - people in desperate need of a new home who the likes of Hugh want to see lose out to queue-jumpng economic migrants with no respect for our laws and enough cash to pay people smugglers to get them here. Plenty to be ashamed of there!

As for all these ashamed Australians, Hugh - I'm ashamed they are Australian, too! And don't include me in the "we" who are "worried about the tiny handful that try to come here in little boats". You and your friends are the ones who are *worried* about them - most Australians are not. We just want to see them quickly assessed and dealt with appropriately. In most cases, that would mean sending them home and resettling a genuine refugee instead.

Posted by: Bob Bunnett at July 12, 2003 at 09:06 AM

The only thing that makes me ashamed to be Australian are those bastards who say they are ashamed to be Australian...

And Porky Phlip Adams

and Mad Mad Mike Carlton



Posted by: lawrie at July 12, 2003 at 11:42 AM

Bottom line on Mackay, and all the concerned Australians:

Until they put a firm number on the maximum refugee intake per year, AND THEN tell us what they will do when the boatload after that shows up, they are not proposing policy. They are simply exercising their legal right to bitch, while acknowledging they haven't the foggiest notion how to fix the problem. You know, "I can know what's wrong without knowing what is right".

Posted by: Paul Wright at July 12, 2003 at 11:51 AM

People who say they are “ashamed” to be an Australian really piss me off. How can you be? We live in a beautiful country, a fair country and a free country. Just because a clear majority of people question the legitimacy of some “refugees” and quite rightly so, does not make Australia a place to be ashamed of.

People who follow the bizarre way of thinking associated with what is commonly called “The Left” use that old ashamed to be Aussie cliché whenever something happens that doesn’t fit in with their strangely distorted view of the world.

Things make me feel shamed too. Phillip Adams makes me feel ashamed of reading the Australian newspaper. Kylie Minogue makes me feel ashamed to be a music lover who has to crawl over the top of her rubbish to find the real music in the store. Deadlocked, stinking, banner waving, rock throwing peace protesters make me feel ashamed of our education system. But ashamed to be an Australian? Never. And if you are, there is always somewhere else to live that may come up to your standards. Try Cuba.

Posted by: Patrick at July 12, 2003 at 02:50 PM

A few years ago Bob Ellis said he was ashamed to be an Australian. Why? Government policy at the time meant that his mother would have to sell her home to move into a nursing home. For Ellis this would have meant - wait for it - that he would have foregone an overseas holiday from the proceeds of his mother's estate.

In other words- Ellis was ashamed to be an Australian because the Government wouldn't subsidise a holiday for him.

I think that about sums up the the type of person who uses this phrase.

(For overseas readers, Ellis is two tonnes of manure in a one-tonne bag who has pretensions to being a writer).

Posted by: The Mongrel at July 12, 2003 at 11:05 PM