Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Australian values & NSW Labor

The NSW ALP government wants school classes on Australian values. As a civic nationalist I think there might be something to this, if it is about egalitarianism, mateship and the fair go, as suggested in Imagining Australia (although my view of how to achieve these objectives might be more old Labor than the authors). I will see what my students in Australian Identities think.
How might these values be put into practice? NSW Labor's newest MP Penny Sharpe said in a praiseworthy first speech:

Australia is a nation of abundant wealth – in our environment, our people, in our diversity and in our spirit. We are able to care for all our citizens. That we do not is a burning injustice. I could not and cannot accept that in a wealthy nation like Australia we tolerate the poverty, the violence and the plain unfairness that too many Australians experience day after day. We all deserve the opportunity to live with dignity. We all deserve to be treated with respect. None of our citizens should be shut out of our nation'’s prosperity.

There was a time when NSW Labor led Australia in the battle for these values. Maybe the Premier seeking strategies for re-election should look back to the past history of his party. Once between the wars when NSW led Australia in social expenditure as this graph shows (blue line on top is NSW), to return to this example would put Australian values into practice (for more on this graph see my APSA 2005 paper here). For the completely opposite view on Australian values see Tom Bramble here.


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