In January 2021, Australian Prime Minister announced a change to the national anthem, following growing criticism and a push for change. We, Australians, will no longer sing “For we are young and free“, indicating a young and free nation, just under 250 years old, completely ignoring the people of the First Nation, the Aboriginal people, who have lived here on this land for over 60,000 years. It’s about time we come to terms with the existence of our indigenous people, the oldest living civilization on planet earth.
Going forward, we shall praise “For we are ONE and FREE“, as united Australians – Aboriginals, white, red, yellow or black, no matter what colour our skin is, migrants from all over the world who call Australia home. That’s one step ahead, Mr Prime Minister. It’s about time… The next move should be to reschedule the celebrations of Australia Day from January 26 – the day the English pioneers landed at Sydney Cove and started exterminating the local people. We should celebrate unity, not masacre. Unfortunately, although there is a growing movement to make the change, the Liberal government is hesitating to take such step because who they really are – nationalist and conservative. We both know they can only stall it for just a few more years until it will eventually change.
Interestingly, this comes at a very unusual time. COVID has obviously changed the world the way we know it. Though here in Australia we consider ourselves very lucky compared to the rest of the world. Yes, we had lockdowns for weeks and months, we’ve shut the doors to the outside world pretty much, and we generally got back to our pre-Covid lives, which is unheard of in most other countries. But in the process we damaged one major thing – the Federation of Australia.
The country is divided into six states (New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia) and two territories (the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory). Each state has a Premier (effectively a Governor) and apparently they have the authority to shut down internal borders between the different states. Not even the Prime Minister can overrule such a decision. The way it played out in the past year since Covid hit Australian shores was, and still is, that Premiers shutdown, reopen and shutdown again their state borders, sometimes in a matter of minutes or hours, without even consulting with their peers.
What we ended up with in the past year, is a divided country, a non-functioning federation, where people cannot plan any trips around the country to see family and friends, since evidently the smallest cluster in one region (say in Melbourne or Sydney) is followed by an immediate border closure of West Australia and Queensland to all Victorians or people from NSW. Effectively millions of people from Australia’s two biggest cities – Melbourne and Sydney. We’re talking about small clusters – it could be as little as one new case that erupts all of a sudden in the community after weeks and weeks of zero community transmission.
This must look so odd to people living outside of Australia, since the numbers are so low, but I can assure you, it also looks really odd to the local people. That means any plans you may have made can be literally thrown into disarray just like that in a matter of seconds because there are X number of cases somewhere and that’s enough to trigger a border closure. Say goodbye to your inter-state trip to see your mum and dad, forget about your Christmas plans or summer holiday travel, the border is shut and you cannot do anything about it. And once it’s closed instantly, it can take weeks and months to reopen it. Just like that. This is what happens when the fear of the virus meets an overuse of political power.
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