The word John Howard forgot

12 December, 2006

Last night, on the ABC, I saw a report on the planned citizenship exams, which would include an English test and a test on cultural knowledge. Included was a clip of John Howard identifying some of the Australian values applicants would encounter in the test: “The value of ‘mateship’; the value of ‘having a go’.”

I wonder how many Australians remember that the classic Australian values used to be “mateship and a fair go”? Are we experiencing some sort of Orwellian revision of our cultural history? Or does the famously mean John Howard find it difficult to even say the word “fair”?

I don’t want to be mistaken for a Jingoist, but I must say I think “mateship and a fair go” are values which, properly enshrined as law, could permanently enhance life in this country.

  • Mateship means solidarity with friends and neighbours, helping them and relying on them in turn. From this we can extrapolate a public health system, education, welfare, community service, etc.
  • A fair go means two things: tolerance, and opportunity. Opportunity means access to education and resources, freedom of speech and association, less red tape, exposure to other cultures and ideas, and assistance for new enterprises. Tolerance – well, we all know what that means, don’t we? Don’t we?
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One Response to “The word John Howard forgot”

  1. maddymoo Says:

    Possibly, in Howard’s reality, we are guilty of not being the “battlers” he desires, thus “have a go” rather than get a fair go (and his idea of fair, and your and my idea of fair, do differ). He’s not too good at tolerance, neither.


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