Looking Back On The Week - & A Bit Further
Saturday, 26 October 2002
On Wednesday this week, Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson made the suggestion that schools should start the day with a flag raising ceremony including the raising of the flag and singing the national anthem. You know, that song they sing before the AFL Grand Final, the one that starts with:
Australians all eat ostriches,
for we are young and free,
With golden soil and well fought oil,
'ow Rome is girt by sea;
Dr Nelson said "Flag raising in school was a everyday occurrence and I've got to say in some respects perhaps it was a better society at that time." And of course our Prime Minister concurred, saying "... it should never have stopped".
I am old enough to remember standing on a school playground in the sixties, reciting a pledge that I would "honour my country" and probably the Queen and the flag. I can't remember the exact words, but it finished off with a promise to "cheerfully obey my parents, teachers and the law". Entirely thanks to this daily ceremony, thousands of Australian kids cheerfully ate their greens when ordered to at the dinner table, shut up and listened in class, and refrained from throwing bricks through windows or helping themselves to a five finger discount at the Coles lolly counter. With this solid basis of instruction in the civic virtues, I am entirely at a loss to account for my current cynicism when it comes to all matters patriotic. Maybe it was all that dope that I didn't inhale in the eighties.
Update: I am sure most of you have noticed the embarassing mondagreen in my quotation from the National Anthem. The third line should of course read
We've golden soil and whale foot oil;
I can only apologise most profusely for this lapse in scholarship.