1 December 2001

Letter to Australia

Hi, allow me to introduce myself. I'm a fully paid-up member of the chattering classes, the new elites, one of the cafe-latte set, a chardonnay-sipping champagne socialist (if there is such a thing). I'm no action man, all I do is talk.

I'm a politically correct, university educated, inner-city wanker who has no real affinity with 'the vast mainstream' of Australia, or even 'basic Australian values' like mateship, 'a fair go' or unfettered free market capitalism. If I did I wouldn't feel totally disenfranchised by the recent re-election of the Howard government.

Since this momentous event I've been trying come to terms with my own irrelevancy. According to this country's professional right-wing media blowhards and a thousand letter-to-the-editor writers, cultural gatekeepers like me should just give up now. Or at the very least just piss off for three years while little Johnny gets on with important jobs like directing people trafficking in the South Pacific or privatizing any profitable government entity still left in public hands.

Apparently, anyone who voted against John Howard - and by polling day there were 49 per cent of us - was simply out of step with grassroots opinion. We have no affinity with the battlers, the workers, the people, the suburbs or the bush. We have no idea how tough things are 'out there'; especially for those 'ordinary decent' Australians trying to 'cope with change'. We wouldn't have the first idea how difficult it is for them to hold onto their racist views while all around them they are being swamped by 'different faces'. It's the likes of social engineers like us who are always trying to foist dangerous untested new ideas onto 'ordinary decent' Australians, like 'tolerance' or 'Islam'.

After all, I am one of those Balmain basket-weaving intellectuals who thinks multiculturalism is grouse. I don't give a rat's arse that the country is being swamped by Asians, Afghani terrorists, queue jumpers or even British backpackers overstaying their visas. You see, I'm blind to these and the other real problems facing this nation - like the outrageous unfair dismissal laws, or lesbians that want IVF, or Cheryl Kernot. Actually, Cheryl's not such a problem anymore.

Another substratum of this great nation with whom I'm completely out of touch are the so-called the 'new apsirationals', the wannabe yuppies living in gated housing estates in Sydney's western suburbs who supposedly delivered the rest of us - and John Howard - three more years of pain. The ones that aspire to be in more debt than their neighbours just so they can drive a new Beemer. The ones happy to pay through the nose for private health insurance and 'independent' schools because it makes them feel like they might be middle class one day. The ones who, though they live in the West, wouldn't be caught dead wearing stonewash or smackie-dacks. On that point, neither would I, but overall I'm still very much out of touch with these 'new aspirationals' as well.

The fact that I actually believe that it's a key role of government to provide adequate health and education for all marks me as nothing more than a tree-hugging pinko union thug. You can smell my support for the welfare state a mile away. I stink as much as user-pays. I'm one of those hopeless dreamers who is all for ecologically sustainable development, ethical investing and socially responsible work practices. My support for feminism, affirmative action and direct democracy shows just how impractical I've become. As for Aboriginal reconciliation, well, I'm sorry John Howard's got three more years but I have absolutely no right to do so being one who foolishly clings to the "black armband view of Australian history", as Johnny so capably dismissed it. It may come as a shock, but this ill-informed post-colonial, post-nationalist libertarian also supports a new flag, and I think it would be good to get rid of the Queen (metaphorically speaking). She only takes holidays here anyway.

On that topic, terrorism, I'm afraid, is out for the time being. Along with free speech. I agree with the blowhards here that in these "new and dangerous times" you can't have everyone going around saying what they really think! Unless its Pauline Hanson, of course. As you can guess, I'm also one of that lunatic fringe that thinks Howard got over the line by playing the race card! Imagine that? A politician of his standing and calibre stooping so low as to use the misery of refugees to tap into white Australia's lingering xenophobia. It's enough to make you throw your kids overboard.

What Howard's media attack squad will allow is that in three years, people like me can have another go at ridding this scourge from the body politic. Until then, I'm told, I should just "get over it" and "get on with life". So you can see how out of step I am. What am I gonna do for three years? I need to sit down and have long hard look at myself.

MICHAEL HUTAK

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