Saturday, April 29, 2017

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The Edge Of Empire

Steve Ricardos, who frequently post comments on TPQ, shares his thoughts on life down under.

Image result for australia

As a few of you on TPQ are aware I emigrated to the colony of Australia a while ago looking for work and a better life for my wife and two weans. 

What I found was a most extraordinary place, full of diversity, awe-inspiring scenery and locals who display absolutely no notion of ‘Britishness’ despite having the Union Flag jammed in a corner of their own standard and allegedly Mrs Windsor as their ‘Queen’.

England is far removed from their lives, the empire is no more and save the odd (and rather boring) game of cricket not one Australian I have encountered really cares about this state of affairs. Many here would struggle to name the British PM and All really do think that ‘Poms’ whinge a lot, though I do think this is a tad unfair given the vast difference in weather and sensible way the Australians have organised themselves as a society who work to live rather than live to work.

Australia, for the most part, minds its own business and as long as the beer/wine is cold and they have sport they are a merry bunch. They are most definitely a nation obsessed with sport, however, and who can blame them? The weather here is great 85% of the year and a huge part of everyone’s lives is spent outside. From the stereotypical ‘barbie’ for dinner after work (with beer), to watching their kids play for their local soccer/rugby/AFL team (with more beer) and following all this with a few ‘cold ones’ with mates watching more sport on TV… mainly on the weekends though. (Rules firmly laid down by Mrs Steve!).

I have started to get my head a little around the politics here, and it seems to be set up based loosely on a mix of UK and US legislature with both an upper and lower house. The two main political parties of note are ‘Labor’, spelled inventively without the last vowel, and the other is a coalition of conservatives from the Liberals (in name only, notoriously homophobic/xenophobic) and the Nationals ( crazy redneck farmers). 

Interestingly, the previous Liberal Prime Minister before he got shafted was a man by the name of Tony Abbott, a one-time trainee Priest who, aside from being a batshit crazy alcoholic, reinstated the archaic ‘Knighthood’ system of honours in Australia then proceeded to award the old racist ‘Prince Phillip’ a ‘Knight of the Order of Australia’… I would have loved to have seen the look on Mrs Windsor and Old Phil’s face when that news dropped! Castle Catholics have nothing on our PM’s!

There have been a few moves towards making Australia a Republic, however. Our current PM is a member of the Australian Republican Movement but by and large nobody really seems to care here. There apparently was a National vote in 1999 that was soundly defeated in every state. But I am led to believe that is because the people did not like the structure of the alternative, rather than some dearly held loyalty on the edge of empire.

Thus pervades a complete lack of interest in a Republic lately too. Ask an Australian what concerns them and they will invariably mention the price of electricity and gas firstly, and the absolutely insane prices for houses in the current market. Raise the notion of a Republic and expect raised eyebrows. The people want a roof over their heads and food in their stomach first and everything else is commentary.

The more things change, the more they stay the same!

4 comments :

Niall said...

Nice wee blog Steve...brought back a few memories. As for Australian politics, I never quite grasped it...Bob Hawk was in charge when I was there and he openly referred to his opposition or in fact anyone who disagreed with him as a 'bastard'..that was one aspect that appealed to me. Could you imagine May openly calling Corbyn a bastard on tv...brilliant.
I found the Aussie quite openly racist...he'll call you a Paddy or Pomm to your face and think nothing of it. As for women...they're only there to breed, iron shirts and prepare dinner aka lighting the barbie....
Still all in all it was an enjoyable experience!

AM said...

Steve,

thanks for this piece. Enjoyed reading it.

larry hughes said...

Strewth!!
Enjoyed that. It tallies with my own experience on a couple of visits to Perth WA. Aussies say it as they see it and have a refreshing disregard / indifference to PC horseshit. Stick another shrimp on the barbie Sheila and fetch me a stubbie while yer at it. A beautiful country beautifully maintained. Had I been in possession of a career, a trade and an un-blotted copy book along with the finance required to relocate I would have been there in a blink. Who can blame them for being indifferent about UK matters? Geographically and politically they are in a better place by far. Though I worry about their flirtation with the yanks. That will end badly I fear. An Aussie's response to a retired British Army ex pat's 'criminal ancestry' jibe at Australia in a Manila bar was the best I heard. He said without hesitation or malice, simply matter of fact... "When my great great gran got seven years in Australia for stealing a loaf she wrote home saying she wished she'd stolen ten!" It went unanswered by anything but a defeated smile. Australia and the Aussies suited me right down to the ground. Fair dinkum Steve and I genuinely hope you and yours are LOVING IT THERE.

Steve R said...

AM,

Thanks for posting. I have another idea in mind for another article, one about the Irish Diaspora here in Australia, as there are some cracking stories to be told. Hope you will post also?

Niall,

That's something I had to get my head around. It tends to be the older (60+) Australians who display the most bias and I'm told this is due to the influx of immigrants they witnessed in their youth when Australia was transiting from a 'Whites only' colonial backwater to a more PC...nominally colonial backwater! I can't detect any malice behind it though. The Aussie epitaph of the 'Fair Go' undercuts everything it seems. The Politics I will write up in a later article as it takes a fair while to do it justice, and it is equally mad!

Larry,

Thanks mate, glad you liked it. It is an amazing country and the population as a whole are more for the people than the politicians. It's strange to witness a system of governance that those in power are genuinely mindful that their stay is on the whim of the populace. Having compulsory voting makes for interesting panic by the major parties, as they desperately beg for votes on key issues! But as the saying goes 'The trouble with democracy is that every silly basta*d gets a vote!'

Funny, but a lack of trade and blotted copybook would have got ye a ticket here not so long ago! Hope you and the fam are grand in Donegal mate.