On Australia Day, Bass welcomed 182 new citizens into our Australian family.
One hundred and fifty nine of them were in Launceston itself - the biggest number anywhere in Tasmania. In taking their citizenship pledge they joined with many thousands right around our country who took the formal step of becoming Australian citizens.
The pledge is straightforward and unexceptional. It is something every Australian can recite, believe in, and put into practice. The pledge is the most basic statement of what being an Australian citizen actually means.
It reads: "I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties I respect, and whose laws I will uphold and obey."
Please re-read the pledge. It is hardly burdensome. Nor is it jingoistic to acknowledge that part of being an Australian citizen requires loyalty to your country and your fellow citizens. In a democracy, it is hardly exceptional to require a sharing of our democratic beliefs.
Indeed one of our democratic beliefs is that you have the freedom to leave. If you choose to do so, good luck trying to find a better country.
One of our democratic beliefs is that you have the freedom to leave. If you choose to do so, good luck trying to find a better country.
In a social compact, it makes eminent sense that in seeking one's rights and liberties to be honoured one would reciprocate by honouring the rights and liberties of others.
Furthermore, agreeing to uphold our laws and obey them is hardly a radical proposition - unless you are a fully-fledged and pledged anarchist
So when an exceptionally left-leaning politician like Tanya Plibersek (Labor frontbencher) suggested that schoolchildren might be asked to recite the pledge I, along with many others, applauded the idea, pleased that a left-wing Labor luminary had finally had a lucid moment. It is an idea worthy of everyone's support.
Yet poor Tanya Plibersek, a darling of the Left, was subjected to one of those faux public outrage "pile-ons" for her suggestion. The only good thing about the "pile-on" is that Tanya now knows what those of us on the Conservative side put up with on a regular basis.
Tanya Plibersek was demonised on Twitter - the sewer of social media - as a "fascist", along with many other non-flattering descriptions.
Swearing loyalty to one's country is now an extreme right-wing position according to these critics. Note how they studiously avoided the requirements of loyalty in Communist countries. Dictatorships, whether fascist, communist or otherwise, are always repressive.
When I put a resolution to the Senate last week calling on schools to consider having the citizenship pledge recited by students on appropriate occasions, only the radical left Greens opposed the proposition. The Greens denounced it as a "US-style pledge". Really?!
Their opposition reminded me of George Orwell's sage observation about left-wing elites in his country. I've slightly adapted it to fit the Australian context:
"Australia is perhaps the only country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles, it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being Australian and that it is a duty to snigger at every Australian institution, from Anzac Day to meat pies. It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true, that almost any Australian intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during "Advance Australia Fair" than from stealing from the bushfire charity."
There is no doubt that, in contrast, the vast majority of Australians understand that they are blessed to live in Australia.
As a migrant myself I took the pledge a number of years ago. It meant a lot then, and it still does today.
Those fortunate to be born in Australia don't have any other experience than the abundance of freedom, liberty, wealth, and space. Never having known anything different, they often and understandably simply take it for granted.
To focus a young Australian-born child's mind, and indeed all young Australians, for the 15 seconds it might take to recite the pledge is hardly an imposition. More importantly, it is a vital reminder of the social compact of which they are a part by virtue of their birthright.
With birthrights come birth responsibilities. A simple 15-second recital of the pledge would be a gentle reminder to the emerging next-generation of our rights and responsibilities. In Australia, we have a lot to celebrate and for which to be thankful. Reminding our young Australians of that would be no bad thing.
- Eric Abetz, Tasmanian Liberal Senator.