In these politically correct times, most civic events begin with an acknowledgement of “traditional owners whose land upon which we gather”, as if we are some sort of trespassers in our own country. Even Federal Parliament begins with such an acknowledgement, moving on then to a secondary acknowledgment, of the Creator in the Lord’s Prayer.
While paying respect to indigenous people is virtuous, so too should we pay respect to all Australians past and present, particularly those who built modern Australia, who serve our country and especially those who fought and died or who put themselves in harm’s way for our country.
In the past few weeks it has been worth pondering the sacrifices of that latter group of Australians. The men and women who served this nation in two world wars and in other conflicts extending from the Boer War through to Afghanistan; fought not just for Crown and Country, but for the ideal they represented: freedom in all respects – freedom in speech, freedom in worship and expression of faith, and freedom to prosper economically without undue government interference.
In fact, in most cases, the conflicts our men and women of the armed forces fought in were those against oppressive regimes and groups who sought to impose a tyrannical system of rule upon others, limiting or crushing freedoms that were bestowed upon man by the Creator Himself.
One wonders whether modern Australia still cares about those freedoms that cost so many so much.
We now live in a country where a journalist can be penalised by a federal court for daring to question why government policies benefit a particular section of the community. It infamously happened to Andrew Bolt.
We live in a country where a Catholic bishop can be hauled before a state government tribunal for daring to express Catholic Church teaching on marriage to Catholic school students. It infamously happened to Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous.
We now live in a country where farmers are fined (and could be imprisoned) for daring to clear a portion of their own freehold land so they can expand their farm and have a productive livelihood. It’s infamously happened to many farmers in Queensland and New South Wales.
The list of freedoms lost doesn’t end there. We have had pastors arrested and fined for biblical preaching, employees sacked for expressing a view on marriage online, landholders forced to let major companies on to their land without permission or adequate compensation, doctors forced to either abort children or advise of another doctor who will. The list goes on and on and on.
And there are bound to be further erosions of liberty.
In recent times, Labor has proposed a press regulator – an idea bound to resurface – and it now proposes to have a LGBTI commissar appointed to the Human Rights Commission, presumably to weed out recalcitrants who do not subscribe to notions of gender fluidity or so-called marriage equality.
Is this the Australia that our diggers fought and died for?
Who’s at fault? Politicians, the left, the media, big business or universities? Perhaps all of the above, to a degree. But the reality is that we are witnessing a cultural shift in Australia where the mindset is that modern human rights trump traditional freedoms.
It might please some that Australia is being transformed into a society where select identities can be celebrated free from criticism or offence. It might also please some that Australia is being transformed into a society where appeals to environmental concerns – often unfounded – reign supreme. But such a society is far from the one that was founded at Federation in 1901.
For that new society must limit freedom of speech, faith and economic opportunity.
And while it appears that, as B.A. Santamaria put it, we are against the tide, there is a dire need now for men and women concerned about this cultural descent to stand up and fight.
Tony Abbott recently told a large group of concerned conservatives gathered in Brisbane that, while many fought hard for traditional marriage and yet suffered defeat in the marriage plebiscite, there was only one true way to guarantee defeat: to not fight.
Men and women of faith who support freedom and tradition now need to look to join a political party if they aren’t a member already, to talk to relatives, friends and neighbours about these matters, and to become active in their local communities.
If we do nothing, indeed we guarantee defeat. And perhaps we will awaken one day soon to an Australia where we are indeed trespassers, for it may be dominated by a culture that is alien to what we have had in the past and tenuously cling on to today.
George Christensen is the Nationals Member of Federal Parliament for the Queensland seat of Dawson.