By now we all know that there’s precious little the Australian government can do to smooth the mood swings of the international markets. We know that in matters of foreign policy we’re pretty much a bit player, or at best a pawn. Climate change? Yeah right, like we can fix that. The Australian people were probably under no illusions about these things when they voted Rudd in November last year.

The big thing a new government could influence, the great change that could be wrought, was to reverse the worst of what a decade of Howard rule had done to domestic culture. History wars for one. Unstacking the boards of various statutory bodies for another. And losing Bradman as some central emblem of Australianness.

There was another. Sure, for a decade or so there we might well have been best defined by a stingy Adelaide stockbroker who traded for a grumpy, unsociable lifetime on his freakish ability in sport. But that moment has passed. We’re more an Adam Gilchrist kind of country now. Gifted, but decent. Which makes the following quote from Immigration Minister Chris Evans nothing if not alarming.

The minister was asked to confirm reports today that The Don would be bowing out of the Australian citizenship test. Not so much, apparently. “We all love The Don,” Evans said. “The Don is safe and I won’t be re-writing the test.” Memo Rudd and Ruddlings: getting the Don out of the citizenship test – to get vaguely allegorical – is why you are there. Don’t wimp it.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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