Things have come to a pretty pass in Australia if you can’t say something in praise of our country without being damned as a racist and a bigot with a distorted view of history.
But that’s what happened to Labor’s shadow education spokeswoman, Tanya Plibersek, when she stood up over the Australia Day long weekend for proud patriotism and proposed teaching the citizenship pledge in schools.
Here’s the full text of my speech to the Sydney Opera House citizenship ceremony today.
As a child of migrants, I am grateful every single day that I get to call Australia home: https://t.co/nKasHjNgPL
— Tanya Plibersek (@tanya_plibersek) January 26, 2020
The citizenship ceremony entails each new citizen making the pledge of commitment to our country and clearly accepting the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship.
Sharing democratic beliefs, respecting rights and liberties, and obeying the law of the land are all part of what a new citizen pledges to do in their adopted country.
Plibersek made her remarks in a speech delivered on Australia Day when nearly 28,000 people, who had committed to make this country their home, became new Australians at citizenship ceremonies.
The shadow minister simply thinks it would be a good idea for children to be taught about the same responsibilities and privileges of citizenship in the classroom.
But her desire to promote patriotism and national pride amongst children was met with howls of outrage from the progressive Left who are always quick to condemn but slow to serve.
One left-wing commentator even dismissed the very concept of ‘Australia’ as an exercise in “spurious geography”.
But the distaste that many on the progressive left have for Australia is unlikely to be shared by many of the 5 million people who have become citizens since citizenship was introduced in 1949.
The liberty and openness of our country continues to be hugely attractive to people from around the world who dream about calling Australia “home”. But that’s not to say everything’s perfect here.
Plibersek has been consistent in arguing that one can “cherish this nation and yet want to make it better.”
The words of the pledge are an important reminder of just how much there is to cherish.
Peter Kurti is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies and also Adjunct Associate Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame Australia.
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