Dear Australia, I know it's our 'big day' but...

January 26, 2016

To:

Sunburnt Country

Sweeping Plain

Dear Australia

I feel nervous about sharing this with you on Australia Day. Especially as it's our 'big day'.

It's just that this past year I have found myself thinking about breaking up with you.

I feel awful saying this because you've been so good to me at times and I know that I'll miss you if I leave. But now you're letting me down. You're disappointing me, hurting me. You're not who I thought you were.

I can't help feeling ashamed of you, fantasising about packing up my gear and leaving without giving you my forwarding address.

Or maybe it's me. Maybe I'm the one who's changed.

The first time I really felt that we were no longer in sync was when both sides of politics implemented those dreadful refugee policies, one after the other, each one more inhumane than the one before. You stopped the boats alright, but you also stopped me from being able to vote by my conscience, gagged the media, excised the hopes of those who thought they could make a personal contribution to this place in the sun.

You were so careless and thoughtless when you dashed the chance for marriage equality. In one fell swoop you minimised the humanity of a large group of people who contribute the same as everyone else, pay the same taxes as everyone else, love as deeply as everyone else, and want the same privileges as everyone else.

Ha! How did I not see the extent of your sexist attitudes before? At one point your macho posturing charmed me, sometimes I even felt protected and flattered by you. But now I realise how ingrained it is. How dangerous and insidious it can be. Do you really think it's okay to pay women 17 percent LESS than men for the same job? Do you really think it's okay for women like Mel McLaughlin to be treated like sex objects instead of professionals? Did you really turn that ugly when we didn't laugh it off?

It's frankly rubbish that there are way fewer women than men in management, and that when a female leader attracts resistance from her co-workers, you blame her 'management style' before you examine if it's not everyone else's attitude to women in power. Tell the men and women with ingrained sexist attitudes what a great man once said in his address to the Australian army: "If that does not suit you, then get out."

Do you know how disappointed I felt when you approved that federal inquiry into halal and kosher food? Hardly anyone noticed that you gave in to the baying racist crowds on social media, but I did. Those people are just hate filled! They could time travel back to 1939 and easily fit into the crowds who made a coordinated attack on Jewish businesses in Nazi Germany on Kristallnacht.

I'm still reeling from the words one of your representatives actually spoke: "We have a right to be bigoted." No, according to history, we do not.

Your support for bigotry has now given greater voice to groups like Reclaim Australia and the drunken cowards at footy games who freak out when an Indigenous Australian displays his cultural pride. I can't believe the stupid, stupid people, who cowed Adam Goodes into submission and then wouldn't admit they were being racist.

And on that note. what about the way you continue to treat our indigenous people? You see them as 'other'. You impose legislation on them and then publically announce their failure to conform like they have sins we have no part in. You throw your hands in the air as if you've tried hard enough. Guess what? You haven't.

So now you know the truth. It's out in the open.

You broke my heart this year. Do you even care? Are you angry with me? Will you pack my bags and let the door hit me on the way out?

The thing is, I sense so much potential in you. I know you're not all bad, and sure as hell know that I'm not all good! But where do we go from here?

Sincerely yours

Debbie

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