|Australian dream. Martin Davies image. www.daviesart.com|
“I’m glad to see the year 2003 go, ladies and gentlemen, because, and I’ll be blunt about it, because the year was a thief.” Mark Latham if Robert Bosler wrote his speeches
Robert Bosler is a Sydney artist and regular Webdiary contributor. His last piece was An artist’s blueprint for a Latham win
What would you do if you were the current prime minister and your whole world had just been turned upside down? What would you do to try to claw back some of your lost political image?
Think Christmas. Think the Queen.
Remember, you have all the advantages and trappings of the prime ministerial office, so you can set the stage, assume your sincerity, and, exactly – an �Address To The Nation�.
It would work, tremendously. You’d look sensational; and there on television you would lay it on us all over again.
Let�s be creative. It�s all out of the ordinary, this, our current political moment, so we can be creative with the state of our national debate now. If anything, what is below is at least an example showing it is possible now for someone to participate in it. I personally hope many more people not given so far to speaking up realise this fabulous opportunity in our national history right now and, whatever their view or their forum, come forth.
For us to share in the electioneering process, and so a citizen off the street may possibly add something to the national debate, I’ve made up a speech for a fictional end of year address by the other possible prime minister. Can you see and hear and imagine Mark Latham making the end of year address, written below?
Thank you, Margo, and your Webdiary, for the wellspring of its magic throughout the year – and looking forward to this wellspring, our beautiful national public voice in text, continuing to help shape debate in the most important of years: 2004.
Footprints in the sand
Well, what a year it�s been ladies and gentlemen. What a year. A big year. It�s been a big year, ladies and gentlemen, a big year for us all.
And along with all of you around the country I’ll be celebrating, I’ll be celebrating, but I’ll be celebrating because I’m glad to see it go.
I’m glad to see the year 2003 go, ladies and gentlemen, because, and I’ll be blunt about it, because the year was a thief.
It stole our chance to take the big steps on the world stage that would have coloured us with brilliance and we could have sat there shining for the world to see.
Instead, we have been threatened to become something we are not. Not if I can help it.
This year has seen us named as a terrorist target. I’m here to tell it to you straight, ladies and gentlemen. That�s what we’ve become.
I keep talking about the nation�s future and while it’s End of Year time and we are partying here and there, it’s not the sort of time we want to put our minds towards who we are. It’s enough to say who we are not. Were we ever really meant to be a terrorist target? Is that what Australia is supposed to be?
2003 came to us dressed as a salesman, ladies and gentlemen. Not the harmless salesman selling us the harbour bridge, it was a deceptive salesman, a dangerous salesman because it wasn’t selling us the harbour bridge, it was selling the desert of Iraq. The salesman came all dressed the part but it came selling the desert of Iraq.
It’s not good enough to hear John Howard point to the footprints in the sand that was the year 2003 and say that we’ve moved on. It’s not good enough. I don’t accept that, ladies and gentlemen, I don’t accept that for all of you.
When John Howard talks about our nation�s security having grown because we bombed Iraq he cannot ignore those footprints in the sand. He cannot.
It’s not good enough for John Howard to point to those footprints and say we moved on, ladies and gentlemen – because those footprints of 2003 were the footprints of a thief. A thief and a vagrant, vagrant from the true shining spirit of who we really are. It stole our country�s sovereignty, and our freedom, and it stole the chance we had to show our strength to the world and shine.
We are not a country that bombs other countries without a valid reason. We went to Iraq and we did it. My colleagues and I were opposed to it, you know that. And in retrospect we were proven right in opposing it, but our loyal country�s sons and daughters were sent there and we did it and my heart goes out to all those who served there and the families of those who served there, and I’m here to tell you we won’t be doing it again. Not like that.
To the people who served there and to your families, you are in my heart and you will be with me in my heart through my time ahead and I tell you this, if you are asked to draw upon your loyalty to your service, under my decision, you’ll be doing it with a country proud and united behind you.
Of everyone I ask this question: did we have to go to war when we did? That�s the question. That�s the question I keep getting asked, ladies and gentlemen.
But now we are in this situation, there�s no denying that now. No denying it. We are in it. John Howard put us in it, and I don’t accept the situation, and I’m dealing with it and my colleagues are dealing with it.
And now that we are in this situation, as Prime Minister I will have to ensure the arrest of terrorist suspects. I will do that. But there�s a bigger job I have to do, a bigger job for this country, bigger job for all of you. That�s why I’m talking to you now, to let you know what I have to do.
I will ensure the arrest of terrorist suspects, as Prime Minister of this country, but the bigger job I have to do is to arrest the slipping of the Australian nation down into that black hole of mutual retribution.
It’s slipping that way, and I have to arrest it. That�s what I have to arrest, ladies and gentlemen, I have to arrest the slipping away of our security and our own sense of freedom and of our sovereignty.
All that means is that we have to make our own decisions, and we have to have the time to make those decisions properly, that�s all that means. But you have to be big enough to do that, you have to be big enough. We all have to play a part. All of us. We all have to do it.
So 2003 was a thief, ladies and gentlemen. A thief, it stole our security and it stole our chance to shine. It stole our true Australian way.
I grew up thinking Australia was a masterpiece, a masterpiece in the making. I loved it. I loved everything about it. I loved the way the word looked, you know, when it�s written on the page. Still do, I love the way it is written. I love the word: Australia. It looks a proud word, an elegant word, a big thing, something big, and strong. I love the shape of our country, the outline of Australia, when it’s drawn on the map. Love it. No other country looks like ours. Every time I see it I feel this beaut sense of pride that that�s the country where I live. Where we all live. I love it, all of it. It’s ancient. Old, older than all of us, older than any other country. It’s special, a masterpiece.
A masterpiece in the making, it was. We were on our way to finding our oneness with each other. On the way to achieving a sense of balance with our internal cultures, as we share this country, and we all from all different backgrounds add our contribution to making it the masterpiece. There was lots to do, lots to do, but we were on the way.
That�s now gone. We lost it. We lost the way. The masterpiece in the making has been turned into mudpie. I want to get it back for us, for all of us. I want to get it back. That�s why I’m here.
I don’t have all the answers. That�s not what I’m here for. I’m not here to give all the answers. I’m here to help us find our way again. I’m here to pull it all together again as we all rebuild our shining nation. That�s my job.
If you’ve lost something, where do you find it? You find it where the light is brightest, that�s where you find it. Australia�s national light is brightest in our sense of joy and our natural sense of freedom and our natural love of life. It’s brightest in our sense of true Australian freedom as we get on and create and achieve. That is where we will find our future.
And if the light isn’t shining where you lost it, what do you do? You get a torch and you point the torch, you point the torch on the dark issues and we have to look at them.
We have to look at the things that swerved us off the way and look at those things that turned the masterpiece into mudpies. We have to look at them, we have to look at the lies about Iraq, at the lies about children being thrown overboard – goodness sakes! I promised you no crudity but goodness sakes! We have to look at all these things, because this is what has happened to us. Our country, this is what has happened to our country. This is what has made mudpies out of the spirit of our country.
That�s another arrest we have to make, ladies and gentlemen – we have to arrest the thieving of our national spirit.
It�s a bit harder to understand, but you know yourselves that when some precious property of yours is stolen and walks out the door you want to stop it and set it right. That�s what�s been happening to our country, ladies and gentlemen. All our shining glory, everything spiritual we as a nation had achieved and were working hard to achieve, everything we believed in as a free and creative and colourful national spirit, and a developing and learning spirit, is going out the door. Out the door. It’s being stolen.
John Howard and his government, for them to stay in government, it�s not a good enough reason. It’s not a valid reason and it’s not good enough. Having our bright and true Australian way stolen from us, there�s no valid reason for it and we have to arrest it now. We have to stop their politics of fear. We have to stop their politics of division. That is not who we are.
There has been enough of John Howard, enough. Enough: making mudpies out of the masterpiece that is the Spirit of Australia.
This is a land of abundance with a wealth of spirit and in spiritual terms we have been forced to make mudpies and eat the soulless cardboard package.
We have to rise up out of the mud, wash ourselves off, and start clean and fresh. That is Christmas 2004. Arrive there clean and fresh.
My dream is that we all contribute to the new masterpiece, the true masterpiece, the true Australian masterpiece. It won’t happen just by itself, nor can I do it for you – we all have to make the decision to do it together. We have to make that decision every day. We have to take action.
So many of you marched on the streets, you linked arms, and walked towards what you hoped was a world of peace. I urge you to continue doing that. Walk the streets with peace in your heart. Say g�day and smile and shake your countryfolks’ hand. Every day. And if you don’t want to get out of the house to do it, you can do it by sitting right there in your lounge chair and linking arms in spirit with your fellow Australians, and walk forward, walk forward, with me into our new and brighter future.
Australians are not afraid of the task ahead. We are not afraid, that�s not who we are. We are not meant to be made to be afraid. We don’t like it. We live in a land of colour. Colour. I think of the golden sands and the blue skies, the red earth and the silken snow. That�s what we are. This is the true Australia. We are a land of brightness and colour. We are not a land of mudded fear.
We can do the tough stuff in the modern era. We can do it. It’s part of our history, our national history. We can do it, and we do it. It’s part of who we are.
When the time is right, we get stuck in. Stuck in. We are not afraid, we do it, when the time is right, we do it, we get stuck in.
I look at all our great achievements along the true Australian way and I see Australia roll its sleeves up. We do it as a country, we roll our sleeves up and get stuck in and that is what we are.
I look at John Howard getting stuck in, but he never rolls his sleeves up. I look at him and see he lets others do the dirty work or take the rap.
But we know it�s the Australian way: to roll your sleeves up. It�s the true Australian way.
I look at John Howard and he doesn’t roll his sleeves up, ladies and gentlemen, because if he did we’d see his use-by-date. His use-by-date. Stamped on his arm.
I wish you all a true Australian Christmas, ladies and gentlemen, a happy and colourful and joyful Christmas.
And I look forward eagerly with you, my fellow Australians, with all my fellow Australians, next year, for John Howard to call the election and show us that use-by-date.
Goodbye to 2003, thankfully, ladies and gentlemen. Freshness is on the way, Merry Christmas, and enjoy.