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We must celebrate Australia’s diversity, including her nutters

About this time every year newspaper editors Down Under begin that most feted of yearly traditions: dusting off the old Australia Day editorial.

It’s an age-old ritual, one shrouded in shadow and mystery: tradition dictates that the left-leaning Sydney Morning Herald offers up to the newspaper elders 1000 words or so suggesting Australia Day, the anniversary of the landing of the First Fleet on Australian shores, is not a day for celebration, rather it should be a day for reflection, an annual reminder of the importance of respecting each other’s cultures. 

In turn, the right-wing Telegraph refreshes its annual 400 words about the futility of lingering on past indiscretions, and gives away a free bucket hat to every reader.

These contrasting sentiments have become so automatic and steadfastly unchanging that to suggest there exists a true Australia Day debate would seem to most people disingenuous.

The sides are bunkered down in their perspective because there is no need for compromise. Both papers’ readers nod through the same editorial they read every year.

Both sides have points: Australia Day shouldn’t be an excuse for belligerent nationalism, but nor should people feel guilty about celebrating their country because it was a result of another nation’s colonial policies, even when the fallout of that policy is still keenly felt by Australia’s indigenous population.

Logically speaking, if anyone should feel guilty about Australia Day, it’s the British, and I can assure you, they don’t.

Like most developed nations, Australia’s biggest challenge is its ability to embrace and celebrate diversity, and that variety of society must include diversity of political opinion.

Don’t celebrate right-wing nutbags’ opinions necessarily, but celebrate the fact that you live in a society that tolerates their stupid opinions.

Australia Day is the day Australia began, but more than that, it is an incredible opportunity for people to come together and celebrate the country Australia is now, and the even more tolerant country it must become.

Agree or disagree? Is Australia Day a time for celebration? letters@tntmagazine.com

Miliband’s Rogue Landlord promise

In his first speech of 2013 Labour leader Ed Miliband made what might well be the first substantial utterance of his tenure in charge of Labour.

He pledged to tackle the problem of rogue landlords in the UK. The Tories promptly bit back that any further regulation would increase rents still further, but that sounds to me a lot like obfuscation.

Rogue landlords aren’t just an issue for Londoners, they’re a plague, a black rot festering throughout the housing market, if you follow my slightly clunky metaphor.

From the exorbitant prices to the appalling standard of housing, the rental market in London needs overhauling urgently. 

For too long politicians have been happy to treat housing like a commodity as opposed to a fundamental element of a functional society.

But Miliband needs to go further: London also needs effective rent control.

 

Photos: Getty


Talkback


News opinion: We don't need Australia Day debate, we need tolerance
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