Andrew Wicks

Advance australia unfair: Plebiscite decision indicative of national apathy

With the Coalition’s marriage equality meeting progressing as well as we assumed, I’m wondering if our national tryst with apathy is here to stay. 



Yep. We blew it. It now seems as if the issue of marriage equality will be solved by a nonbinding postal vote. Today marks a great victory for the status quo, all done bar the shouting in time for Deal or no Deal.


The other ripple felt on the shores of Twitter was the sharing of unpopular opinions, via the hashtag #ConfessYourPopularOpinion. Well, here’s mine: We never see change, because we don’t really want it.

Now, I consider myself a proud Australian. While I don’t have the compunction to tattoo it upon my person, add patriotism to my car, or fashion the flag into evening wear, I’d rather not live anywhere else. I recently did a very Australian thing and travelled to South East Asian on an impossibly cheap late night flight. Soon after my arrival, I met the face of someone which collapsed upon the discovery of where I’m from. The lazy assumption that this man was an individual, burned by a loutish countryman of mine was quickly undone, as I kept meeting the same face. It was the first time I saw it aimed at us. The face normally reserved for everyone else but the obnoxious American loudly asking questions in the customs line. Frankly, it shocked me. As Australians, we’ve previously sailed through greetings like the above, on the assumption that we’re collectively alright. Apparently not.

To be honest, this year is my 32nd, and the pride I have in this land is at an all time low. Perhaps that number is part of the problem, as I get older, I realise that there will always be some sort of injustice for someone, some sort of abject group let down by the discovery that the collective promise of opportunity was not for them. That will always exist for someone, but all we can do, is hope to reduce the number, right?

Sadly, as I dive deeper into headlines and subtweets and press conferences, I fear we’ve failed. Our greatest export in this calendar year seems to be apathy. We seemingly don’t give a shit. And yes, I know that many people hold the view of inclusion, and are fundamentally good people, but the fact that those who represent us don’t represent us is moot. Who we elect is who we are.

Malcolm promised a plebiscite, and we ignored the asterisk at the polling booth and voted him in.

Another thing that blinds us, is our faith in shining optimism. I felt it this morning, as many did. Wow. A meeting. We’ll be right. No matter how bad things get, we’re steeled by the fact that true change, Australian change, is a presser away. So, therefore, things are never that bad. Things may require sweat, but our virtue will eventually shine. Port Arthur happened, we took away everyone’s guns. We acknowledged the horror of the stolen generation, we apologised. A lot of work remains to be done, but we’ve started down the correct path at least.

I don’t see that in the modern Australian experience. All I see is self-flagellation and new depths of awful. We compensated those on Manus, but people keep dying there. Our neighbours, friends (and fellow voters) have to witness the collective nitpicking on how to validate their love, but only in a way that actually doesn’t mean anything. While it’s easy to blame the Coalition, the ALP had the years to do something about this societal inequality.

But, who wants to take a chance, right?

The covering of one’s arse is one of our most precious national heirlooms. But, let’s be honest, this isn’t sneaking a slab into work to start the weekend’s revelry a bit earlier, this concerns something we hold as priceless – the voice of those who pay their taxes. This isn’t a new phone box, or highway turn-off, it’s the face people wake up to every morning, and fall asleep to every night, those who have to reconcile the fact that their country doesn’t give a fuck about them. Soz bro, check your letterbox. It’s in the mail. 


To be honest, this year is my 32nd, and the pride I have in this land is at an all time low. Perhaps that number is part of the problem, as I get older, I realise that there will always be some sort of injustice for someone, some sort of abject group let down by the discovery that the collective promise of opportunity was not for them.


Mal, I realise that the political machinations are a complex thing, and with such a split Senate, it’s hard to get meaningful policy through, I know. You had to trade horse trade firearms to secure an election platform. I get it, but there’s been nary been an attempt. Today, after the collective angry exhale battered the windows of our national stereotype, the general vibe seems to be: it’s getting beyond a joke.  

Is the problem then, not with those in power, but rather our expectations. Maybe our history looms too far overhead. Maybe we’re still the children cut by the pages of the White Australia policy, the healed scar reminding us of the danger of difference. Perhaps that colourless sheet of paper still paints our thinking. Maybe we’ve always been unbalanced, fearful of the other and perhaps our stretch to be otherwise is merely a denial of the truth. Maybe the fallacy in our thinking might not be in the hope of doing it, but rather finding reasons not to do it.

Ask yourself, of those great moments of fissure, when we’re ashamed enough to seek change, what has happened in the time since our outpouring? The great intervention the save indigenous culture from itself has solved little, and the great black mark that was the 2005 Cronulla race riots hasn’t seen a noted push to build more mosques in the shire. Perhaps the true Australian maxim is to stay in your lane. You keep to yourself, and I’ll keep to myself. Be grateful for what you’ve been offered, because there are no handouts.

As for what’s next, we’re looking to cure the headache by cutting off the head. Malcolm, either way, has lost his job. The far right cabal will return Tony to the throne, and we might just have a repeat of the 2016 election. Spill = minor Libs win. The cycle repeats as the status quo seems to be more valuable than the new frontier. Put simply, we don’t change as a nation, because there’s as many that don’t want to.

I assumed we were better than this, but maybe not.


Andrew Wicks

Andrew Wicks is a country boy with a penchant for movies and sport. After a few years working in health, he decided he'd rather work with today's youth and studied arts and education in rural NSW. His main interests are religion, health and lairy shirts.

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