My Problem With Faux-Aussie Pride Brouhaha

First published in Onya Magazine on January 25th, 2013.

I’ll be honest straight up; I’m not particularly fond of Dick Smith.

I appreciate his intense keen attitude when it comes to supporting Australian made products, and the way he encourages others to do so, but there’s something about his products, something about his marketing style that really gets up my goat.

I try and support Australian businesses where and when I can. I like shopping local; supporting the people that live in my street and run my local stores. But I also understand that sometimes, it’s not always possible to do so. I’m ok with that. I’m realistic. And I don’t really go around making bad puns trying to talk people into changing the way they shop.

As someone who really tries very hard to buy Australian made and owned products, I can declare that I’ve never bought a Dick Smith product and I never will. Because I think the man’s a dick.

And I have a real problem with the faux-Aussie pride brouhaha that some companies and businesses feel the need to push onto consumers. We don’t want it and it’s not working.

I don’t want my peanut butter to be emblazoned with the Australian flag. Or the name of my morning spread to be some awful play on words. I don’t want a company to market at me using outdated, colloquial, racist jargon. And I’ll go out of my way to completely avoid and never support such companies that do.

Do we really have to shove the fact that products and items are Australian made in consumer’s faces? I’m all for a small ‘Made in Australia’ tag, not a problem, but in 2013, do we really still need to keep the occa Aussie stereotype alive?

People aren’t buying it.


Mostly, the products I buy just so happen to be made in Australia. From items in my pantry to products in my bathroom, they’re lovely; gorgeous packaging, encasing a product that works and one that I like, that just so happens to be made in Australia. No fuss, no fanfare, no bullshit.

That’s the type of support I’d like to see our Australian companies getting; support for creating products that are good and that people like. Not support for purely being Australian made, as though that somehow grants them unlimited access to our wallets.

This Australia Day, say no to the faux-Aussie pride brouhaha. Sam Kekovich can stick his lamb up his clacker, Dick Smith can suck a big one and anyone believing that a cheap Australian flag made in China makes them any more Australian than the next person can sign up for my head assessment program.

None of that is what being Australian is about. 80% of the messages we’re fed – via the news and morning programs, newspapers and online columnists – in the lead up to this Australia Day have missed the point entirely.

It’s not about sticking a Southern Cross tattoo on your face once a year. It’s not about buying products that assault your eyeballs. Or perpetuating silly ideals imposed upon us by a select group of outdated bigots.

It’s about compassion. Empathy. Kindness. Celebrating our resilience, our spirit. Showing support for those who are having a tough time; through migration or bushfires, a rough trot or a shitty start to the year. Being Australian isn’t about embodying the image the media is feeding us; if it was, I’d be on the first plane out of here.

It’s about acceptance, not tolerance. Learning from our mistakes, not creating new ones. Opening up our back gates and inviting our family, friends and neighbours to celebrate – whether that’s with a BBQ, dumplings, curry or koftas. It’s about learning from the many cultures that make Australia so unique, not celebrating a singular idea of what our culture is supposed to look like.

I know there’s more to us than the image we’re currently being presented with. And you know it too.

Happy Australia Day. Celebrate with pride for all the good things this nation is truly about, and all the change that’s yet to, but will, come.

Australia Day – Not Just Another Day

First published in Onya Magazine, on January 25th, 2012. 

I’m in the business of celebrating Australia every day. Being Editor-In-Chief of this magazine means I see, do, taste and feel so much of this great land every day of the week. So when I sat down to think about the meaning of Australia Day, I was a little stuck. It’s just another day, after all.

Sure, there’ll be a lot of stereos beating to the sound of Triple J’s Hottest 100. There’ll be a lot of barbeques sizzling with snags and steaks, and tops being twisted off bottles, and corks being popped. There’ll be Australian flags emblazoned on windows and cars and tattooed on the shoulders and backs of the citizens of this country. But what about it should matter?

I’m not sure that I can offer a brilliant, all-inclusive answer. I know that many people baulk at the Australian flag and despise it as a symbol of celebration. That vegetarians don’t really care for Sam Kekovich or his lamb ads. That middle-class Australia loves to point the finger at bogans and tut. That we are not a Republic. That we have a history – a flawed, problematic history. I know all that. And I know many other people do too, and they refer to it, and laugh at it, and bring it up as a means to rip apart all the good things there are about this country, and the people that inhabit it.

And there are so many good things. So many beautiful places, and wonderful, lovely people, and talented artists, and creative ventures, and sporting achievements, and medical geniuses, and innovative educators – so many people so devoted to greatness.

And that it’s the people that tut and vomit opinions that really need to think about Australia Day and its meaning. Because it’s not just another day. It’s a day to celebrate and honour our country.

I’ve always admired Americans for their unabashed love for their country – the way they hold their hand to their heart and honour their flag. Perhaps there is something we can learn from them.

Australia is a young country. One that, might I add, considering its youth, has not only kept up with but surpassed most other countries in the world in most industries. There’s not that many of us and we’re really good at what we do – period.

Australia may have made wrongs, but it has also made many rights.

We may be jovial, and a country of larrikins, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be proud. It doesn’t mean we can’t be grateful. It doesn’t mean we can’t wave a flag in seriousness.

Our core – of mateship, and loyalty, of humour, and intelligence, of inclusion, and culture – should be a marker of solidarity and celebration – not separation.

The thing I’ve realised is that I may celebrate Australia every day, but not enough other people do. It’s their opinions and generalisations and complete ignorance that hold them back from seeing Australia clearly.

So, to be clear, we live in the best country in the world – one that values so many things that other countries do not, one that is caring and loving, one that is stunning and inspiring, one that we should be proud of. And, most definitely, one that we shouldn’t have to keep defending or defining.

Wave your flag proudly this Australia Day, turn the music up, eat your sausage in bread with sauce, feel the sand beneath your toes, rub red dust off your face, wear your bikini down the street with thongs on your feet, laugh, clink glasses with friends, soak in the views and say thank you; that not only can you do all of that freely, but that you can do it proudly.

Happy Australia Day.