Saturday, July 13, 2024
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Fair go, Australia

Does Australian society really support a fair go for all? Photo: Flickr, Ashley Groome
Does Australian society really support a fair go for all? Photo: Flickr, Ashley Groome

We sometimes assume it means that we are a nation that supports equality, egalitarianism, economic opportunity and a generous welfare safety net for those suffering bad times. However, it is mostly used self referentially or for our mates. “Everyone should get a fair go” mostly means either “I should be getting a bigger slice of the pie” or “my mates should be getting more”. It’s about me and/or us when “us” refers to people like me over against “them” – people with more than me, people who are different from me, people I don’t understand or people who threaten my privileged space – either in reality or perceived.

A fair go in Australia, it seems to me, is more about how I exclude the other – rather than include all. A fair go means leaving things as they are or changing them in my favour. A fair go means creating a climate of fear based on what I stand to lose or on our deepest phobias.

How can we say we are a country that believes in a fair go for all when Australia’s First Peoples are locked out of the political process, leaving them without a voice as “we” address “their” generational disadvantage and dispossession? How can we say we are a country that believes in a fair go for all while thousands of asylum seekers remain on the high seas off our coast or trapped permanently in detention camps without hope? How can we say we are a country that believes in a fair go for all and yet deny the need for action when climate change threatens future generations, our near neighbours’ very lands and the welfare of many poorer countries?

How can we say we are a country that believes in a fair go for all when many are denied equal rights to marriage? How can we say we are a country that believes in a fair go for all when we legislate the threat of two years jail for health and legal professionals who report physical, mental and sexual abuse of adults and children in their care in government facilities? How can we say we are a country that believes in a fair go for all when we keep sending troops to unjust wars creating more problems than they solve? How can we say we are a country that believes in a fair go for all when poverty, racism and violence continue to make front page headlines?

How can we say we are a country that believes in a fair go for all when homophobia, sexual assault and bullying remain undiminished? How can we say we are a country that believes in a fair go for all when fear of terrorism and Islamophobia are pedalled as necessary to keep Australia safe?

It is a nice aspiration that all should get a fair go. However, when we look at how we act, rather than how we talk – fair go, mate.

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