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?
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.