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 I don’t want a company to market at me using outdated, colloquial, racist jargon.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.
The Australian products I buy aren’t screaming “AUSSIE MADE! HERE’S A FLAG! AND A KANGAROO! WEARING A CORK HAT! WITH A SOUTHERN CROSS TATTOO! OZZIE OZZIE OZZIE, OI OI OI!”
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.