The link below is to an article reporting on persecution news from the United Kingdom.
This is part of a series examining Australian national identity, especially around the ongoing debate about Australia Day.
It is worth noting that Australia Day commemorates the dumping of a cargo of the outcasts of Britain on the shores of the Australian continent. It was not an act of escaping religious oppression, as in the case of America, or the founding of a new political order, as in France.
British Australia was the creation of an imperial decision. This meant that strong links to Britain, and the British monarchy, continued well into the 20th century. There were occasional republicans who advocated a so-called independent Australia, particularly in the 19th century, but, if anything, enthusiasm for the British Empire increased in the first half of the 20th century.
Australians were Australians, but they were also British. There was the proud boast that Australians were more “British” than the inhabitants of London. This, of course, was probably true given that London attracted people from all over the empire and was cosmopolitan in a way that Australia was not.
The early settlers were British in a very Australian way. Australianness was embedded in their Britishness; the two were not in conflict. In celebrating Australia Day they were celebrating themselves and their peculiar Australian way. Such celebrations could not be construed as indicating a desire to be rid of the monarchy or the empire.
The “cultural cringe” may be important for Barry Humphries and other literary figures who attended Melbourne private schools but, as Len Hume has argued, ordinary Australians of the first half of the 20th century had a lively popular culture, including great comic figures such as Roy Rene and Lennie Lower.
Moreover, Australians felt a great deal of solidarity with their British cousins. Consider the following quote:
Australians know that our future is linked with Britain, not only by ties of race and kinship, but because of hard, practical reasons.
No, the speaker was not Robert Menzies but Ben Chifley in 1948.
Witness the massively popular reception of the new monarch, Queen Elizabeth, when she visited Australia in 1954.
In 1950, Britain was still taking 38.7% of Australia’s exports, which dropped to 26% by 1960. Even in the 1950s, a strong connection between Australia and Britain made a lot of sense.
By that time, though, it had become clear that the British Empire was no longer a going concern, and that Britain’s time as a significant world power had come to an end. The old relationship between Australia and Britain was changing, and Australia was turning its political allegiances more to the US and its trade to Asia.
There was no reason before the second world war to presume that, 25 years later, there would no longer be a British Empire and that Britain would be seeking to “join Europe”.
I think that it can be argued that it came as a shock and that the history of Britain over the past 50 years can be understood, at least in part, as an attempt to deal with its loss of “greatness”. Last year’s Brexit vote indicates that the British have not yet come to terms with their new place in the world.
The shock of the post-war decline of the British Empire was also great for Australia. Cut adrift from empire, it had to refashion and remake itself. It most certainly continued to have a political, social and cultural heritage derived from Britain, but it was moving away and increasingly forming its own, separate identity.
Trade ties were diminished and large numbers of immigrants from many parts of the world arrived, reshaping the country. The bonds of solidarity with Britain so obvious to Chifley in 1948 would only puzzle a young Australian in 2017.
Again, like Britain, much of the history of Australia over the past 50 years has been an attempt to come to terms with the end of empire. Many solutions have been proposed, and tried, ranging from the new nationalism of the Whitlam years, to multiculturalism, to the idea that Australia is part of Asia. Or even a mixture of all three. And then, of course, there is the continuing issue of the place of Indigenous Australians.
Australia has still not worked out its place in a post-imperial world. It knows that it cannot be another US; Australia doesn’t possess the resources to support 300 million people. It knows that the ties with Britain will only get weaker over time. There appears still to be much anxiety about where we belong, when what is needed is a clear, sober and realistic approach to the past and the present.
Australia Day celebrates the origins of British Australia and, in a sense, can be understood as an imperial creation. In more recent times, it has become a celebration of Australian popular culture, marked by barbecues and the donning of clothing marked by the Australian flag. Is this a sign that the day has lost its relevance?
Perhaps one of the most attractive elements of Australian history since 1788 is the fact that so many of its people, at least in the early days, were the cast-offs of British society who had to make their way in an alien world that they were forced to call home.
Perhaps because of this, Australia developed a vigorous popular culture from the bush ballads to The Bulletin and beyond. There is a lot to be said for celebrating Australian ordinariness, which surely goes beyond its imperial roots.
Catch up on other pieces in the series here.
The UK has voted to leave the European Union but even before all the votes were counted volatility made its way across Asian markets and to Australia.
The S&P ASX200 has finished 3.3% down at the close, wiping off approximately $50 billion in value, while the Australian dollar has dropped 3.4% to 73.4 US cents.
Richard Holden, Professor of Economics at UNSW says the volatility is likely to continue at least for another 24 hours.
“We could see volatility, perhaps not as extreme as the current levels, for a really extended period of time,” Professor Holden says.
One of the major factors in this will be how affected UK banks and therefore Australian banks will be by this decision, as they rely on short term funding for their operations.
“If those markets start to dry up and there’s uncertainty about their funding getting rolled over, one day to the next, then that’s when things can go pear shaped within an incredibly short period of time,” he adds.
The position of hedge funds, banks and other financial institutions in betting on currencies in over-the-counter markets (not regular currency markets) in times like this, also adds to the uncertainty.
“Basically we don’t know, what we don’t know and suddenly there’s a liquidity crunch and someone gets into trouble and that has flow-on effects like we saw in 2008,” Professor Holden says.
He also warns that a drop in the Australian dollar shows that money could flow out of Australia and back to the UK as financial institutions there change their positions.
In the longer term, Brexit could affect the way Australian companies trade with the European Union through the UK.
“All of a sudden that’s going to be more complicated, it’s going to have to go through under some new trade agreement and we know that a series of bilateral trade agreements are always more complicated and have more nuance than large multilateral trade agreements,” Professor Holden says.
All this comes as Australia goes into the last week of an election campaign and this volatility will keep economic management top of mind for Australian voters.
“I don’t think either side of politics in Australia has an exclusive right to say they are going to be the best economic managers, I guess we’ll have to wait and see about that as well.”
Britain’s decision to leave the European Union has opened a fundamental crack in the western world. Australia’s relationship with the United Kingdom is grounded in the UK’s relationship with the EU.
Given Australia’s strong and enduring ties with the UK and the EU, the shockwaves from this epoch-defining event will be felt in Australia soon enough. Most immediately, the impending Australia-EU Free-Trade Agreement becomes more complicated and at the same time less attractive.
What will happen to trade ties?
The importance of Australia’s relationship with the EU tends to get under-reported in all the excitement about China. We might ascribe such a view to an Australian gold rush mentality. Nevertheless, Australia’s trading ties to the EU are deep and strong.
Such ties looked set to get stronger. In November 2015 an agreement to begin negotiations in 2017 on a free-trade deal was announced at the G20 summit in Turkey. Trade Minister Steven Ciobo said in April 2016 that an Australia-EU free trade agreement:
… would further fuel this important trade and investment relationship.
When considered as a bloc, the EU consistently shows up as one of Australia’s main trading partners. Consider the statistics below:
in 2014 the EU was Australia’s largest source of foreign investment and second-largest trading partner, although the European Commission placed it third after China and Japan in 2015;
in 2014, the EU’s foreign direct investment in Australia was valued at A$169.6 billion and Australian foreign direct investment in the EU was valued at $83.5 billion. Total two-way merchandise and services trade between Australia and the EU was worth $83.9 billion; and
the EU is Australia’s largest services export market, valued at nearly $10 billion in 2014. Services account for 19.7% of Australia’s total trade in goods and services, and will be an important component of any future free trade agreement.
This is all well and good. But when not considered as a bloc, 48% of Australia’s exports in services to the EU were via the UK; of the $169 billion in EU foreign direct investment, 51% came from the UK; and of Australia’s foreign direct investment into the EU, 66% went to the UK.
You get the picture.
The UK was Australia’s eighth-largest export market for 2014; it represented 37.4% of Australia’s total exports to the EU. As Austrade noted:
No other EU country featured in Australia’s top 15 export markets.
In short, the EU is not as attractive to Australia without Britain in it.
Beyond trade numbers
But the Australia-EU-UK relationship cannot be reduced to numbers alone. It also rests on values shared between like-minded powers.
Brexit represents the further fracturing of the West at a moment when that already weakening political identity is in relative decline compared to other regions of the world, notably Asia (or more specifically China).
EU-Australia relations rest on shared concerns such as the fight against terrorism advanced through police collaboration and the sharing of passenger name records. The EU and Australia also collaborated to mitigate climate change at the Paris climate summit. And they work for further trade liberalisation in the World Trade Organisation – but don’t mention agriculture.
Without the UK, these shared political tasks become harder.
Clearly, Australia-UK relations rest on a special historical relationship. However, it has seen efforts at reinvigoration, as British governments buckled under the pressure of the Eurosceptics among the Conservatives.
Beyond everyday trade, historical links have been reinforced through the centenary of the first world war and the UK-Australia commemorative diplomacy that has come with this four-year-long event.
Cultural ties are most regularly and publicly affirmed through sporting rivalries such as netball, rugby and most notably cricket. Expect these ties to be reinforced as the UK seeks trade agreements and political support from its “traditional allies”.
For those with British passports, there will be a two-year period of grace as the UK negotiates its exit. After that, it will be quicker to get into the UK at Heathrow, but this might be small consolation for the loss of a major point of access to the EU.
The vote to leave is a major turning point in Europe’s history. It marks a significant crack in a unified concept of “the West”. It is not in Australia’s interests.
It’s time for Australia to make new friends in Europe.
Defying expectations of a solid Remain victory, the UK has voted to Leave the European Union by about a 52-48 margin. Remain won easily in Scotland, London and some other big cities, but otherwise Leave swept. The Labour heartland north of England was expected to be better for Remain, but in fact Leave dominated.
Online polls had the contest neck and neck, while phone polls had Remain well ahead. So the online panel polls did better this time than live phone polls. Perhaps this was caused by shy Leave voters.
This vote was not just the result of anti-immigration sentiment. Many people on the left disliked the European Union because they thought it was too authoritarian.
Conservative British PM David Cameron put his authority on the line to get a Remain result. With Remain defeated, it is likely that Cameron will resign, and that the next PM will be more right wing than Cameron. 13 months after winning a shock majority for the Conservatives, Cameron is effectively toast.
Scotland voted heavily to Remain, and may well have another referendum on leaving the UK, following the failure of the first Independence referendum in 2014. If such a referendum were to succeed, the UK would be much reduced.
This result will also affect the Australian Federal election. The stock markets have crashed following the Leave vote, and economic uncertainty should be good news for the Coalition.
Trump slumps in US general election polls
A month ago, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were tied in the RealClearPolitics polling average, now Clinton leads by 6%. This has not happened because Clinton has gone up, but rather because Trump has gone down.
Not only is Trump trailing in the polls, he is struggling to raise money. He raised just $3.1 million in May, compared to over $28 million for Clinton, and he ended May with only $1.3 million in cash on hand, $41 million behind Clinton. All currencies here are US.
Presidential candidates need to raise huge amounts of money so they can fund ads and pay campaign staff. At the moment, Trump is getting pummelled in the ad wars, and Clinton has a far larger staff.
There has been some recent speculation that Trump could be dumped at the Republican convention by a delegate revolt. The convention rules are set at a pre-convention meeting, and it is possible that the rules meeting could unbind all delegates, or require a 2/3 supermajority on the first ballot, which Trump would be unlikely to meet. Many delegates pledged to Trump in fact support Cruz, so it is possible Trump could lose if delegates were unbound.
If Trump lost in such a Game of Thrones type coup, it would enrage his supporters. Whether establishment Republicans or movement conservatives like it or not, Trump won the nomination by a large margin, and to deny him at the convention would be highly undemocratic.
If there is a delegate revolt, but Trump still wins, as is very probable, the revolt will further damage him in the general election. If he loses, his supporters are unlikely to be reconciled to the eventual nominee.
According to an Essential poll, Australians wanted the UK to stay with the EU by a 38-22 margin, with 40% undecided. Australians preferred Clinton to Trump by a 71-15 margin.
Queensland Newspoll has Labor ahead 51-49
A Queensland Newspoll, taken over May and June from a sample of 1450, has Labor leading by 51-49, a one point gain for the Liberal National Party (LNP) since the October to December poll. Primary votes are 38% for Labor (down 3), 40% for the LNP (up 1) and 8% for the Greens (steady). Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s satisfied rating is 44% (down 6) and her dissatisfied rating is 42% (up 7) for a net approval of +2. In his first Newspoll as opposition leader, Tim Nicholls has a net approval of -5.
Normally the primary vote shifts would have produced a 2 point gain for the LNP after preferences. However, Queensland has changed from optional preferential to compulsory preferential voting, and this change has mitigated the primary vote swing.