GRAHAM FREUDENBERG. Ode to Australia Day.

Ode to Australia Day

(In tribute to the late John Hirst and his masterpieces Freedom on the Fatal Shore)

The heroes of famed Waterloo
Or great Nelson’s mighty crew,
If chance had gone a different way,
Might well have peopled Botany Bay.
The Duke himself, he called them “scum”
Kept under by the lash and rum,
Not from Eton’s playing fields
But from poverty’s seething yields,
So, too, our founders, if truth be told
Soldiers and convicts – “undesirables” manifold.

So Dutton, Hanson: shame on your smear
Better than you have by boat come here.
“True patriots all, for be it understood”
“They left their country for their country’s good”. *
Their founding service you might emulate
Improve this nation – and emigrate.
No good you do by staying here,
Purveying hate and feeding fear.
What of Australia do you really know,
Of migrant waves who’ve made us grow,
Since Phillip Britain’s flag unfurled
To take possession of a stolen world?

Graham Freudenberg
26 January 2018.  

*From the playbill of the first theatrical performance in Sydney in 1789 of ‘The Recruiting Officer’.

Graham Freudenberg AM is an Australian author and political speechwriter who worked in the Australian Labor Party for over forty years. He has written over a thousand speeches for several leaders of the Australian Labor Party at the NSW state and the federal level. These have included Arthur Calwell, Gough Whitlam, Bob Hawke, Neville Wran, Barrie Unsworth, Bob Carr and Simon Crean.  In 1990 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in recognition of his service to journalism, to parliament and to politics.  In 2005 he was inducted as a life member of the NSW ALP.

He is the author of four books to date:  A Certain Grandeur – Gough Whitlam in Politics, 1977;  Cause for Power – the Centenary History of the NSW Labor Party, 1991;  A Figure of Speech (autobiography), 2005; and Churchill and Australia 2008. 


John Laurence Menadue is the publisher of Pearls & Irritations. He has had a distinguished career both in the private sector and in the Public Service.

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3 Responses to GRAHAM FREUDENBERG. Ode to Australia Day.

  1. John Monfries says:

    Terrific historical references here. Hanson and Abbott are truly disgusting.

    I wrote something on a similar theme a while back which still seems relevant:

    Refugees not Welcome Here

    “Refugees are not welcome here”, she said,
    As she pocketed her senator’s pay.
    Showing ignorance, full of nameless dread,
    She’s never heard of Hieu Van Lé ?

    Le was a refugee from Vietnam,
    A boat boy, who studied hard and was bright,
    Had he been as white as the whitest lamb,
    She might have thought he was all right.

    He’s now Governor of South Australia,
    (From times when we gave refugees a shout),
    Decked in Vice-Regal regalia.
    Under present rules, he’d be out!

    “Refugees are not welcome here”, she’d say,
    Taking a stand that was dumbly risky.
    She clearly had not heard of Triple J,
    Ignoring Karl Kruzelnicki.

    Dr Karl’s a renowned science guru,
    Australian science would shrink without him,
    His family fled post-war Europe too,
    But she wouldn’t know about him.

    Now Frank Lowy, rich, far-seeing, acute:
    His shopping centres have never been topped.
    She’s not heard of the Lowy Institute?
    Maybe she’s never Westfield-shopped?

    “Refugees are not welcome here”, she’d claim.
    Anh Do fled Vietnam with much travail,
    Now a well-known comic to great acclaim,
    Alas, she wouldn’t know that tale.

    Les Murray’s sports commenting made his fame:
    He was a ’56 Hungarian,
    When Russians came, his family fled the game.
    “Still bad”, says our vulgarian.

    Peter Singer was another boat boy,
    Secular ethics his academy,
    He fled Germany without joy.
    But “Reffos not welcome, you see.”

    Call them whatever nasty names you wish,
    “Reffos, wogs, dagos, yids, or aliens.”
    You’ll still have to sample this bitter dish:
    “Reffos” can make great Australians.

    John Monfries

  2. So good, Graham Freudenberg.
    For a moment I thought they might be “deplorables” manifold

  3. Jim KABLE says:

    Dear Graham:

    My sentiments exactly – if better expressed than I might manage!

    In addition – my father’s paternal grand-father’s grand-father played Captain PLUME in that performance – on June 4th, 1789 – Henry KABLE (1764-1846) First Eleven arrival on this day – the story is that he carried Captain Arthur PHILLIP ashore for the flag-raising event – from the longboat. He was six-foot tall. And 23 years old.

    Thank you for taking to task the scoundrels in our national parliament! And may this Date be changed to acknowledge that it is hugely symbolic as the beginning of the ending of the ordered and ritual ceremonial and traditional lives of Indigenous peoples. Death and destruction – and theft!

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