What does ‘UnAustralian’ actually mean?
THERE was a small news story a few cycles ago; you may not have even heard of it. It involved a tiny yellow patch of sandpaper, a small piece of cork covered in red leather and a multitude of TV close-ups of a cricketer's crotch.
And in all my time as a journalist, and before that as a normal human, I have never heard such noise (with the possible exception of the Barnaby Joyce love child).
Now don't get me wrong. I'm a patriotic Australian right down to my (foreign-owned) R.M. Williams boots. promote the virtues of Australian wool, Vegemite and a good Barossa shiraz. I never dob and try not to judge others. I drink and swear and punt, and adore a Saturday Bunnings sauso-sandwich. I also enjoy watching the manipulation of a cricket ball down a wicket more than most women I know. (I also LOATHE it when the Poms or South Africans have anything over us.)
But overnight, people who'd never witnessed an over and thought a "baggy green" was a squishy garden-waste-removal bag were not only becoming experts on ball swing - but also throwing around words like cheats, kids' despair and my personal favourite, UnAustralian.
My mates in the media and some politicians love to bowl a bit of "UnOztrayan" from time to time. Especially when a good local scandal is brewing and (just quietly) to pick up points (or ratings!) in the battle for the hearts and minds of everyday Oztrayans.
And before I go on, I want to point out something obviously patriotic. Those kids who stole wreaths from a War Memorial on Anzac Day eve; you don't even want to know what I'd do if I got my hands on them.
But for everything less loser-ish... in our multicultural land, and in an era of social media (where everyone has an opinion), what does it actually mean to be UnAustralian? Is it UnAustralian to admit you enjoy the company of New Zealanders and refuse to make sheep jokes around them? Is it UnAustralian to stand up for your "Mrs"? Is it UnAustralian to refrain from getting your hair braided when you visit Bali? Is it UnAustralian to be a non-drinker? ("Don't trust them!") Is it UnAustralian to eat a sausage sanga from the middle, out? Or not know the words to 'You're The Voice'? Is it UnAustralian to think Halloween is UnAustralian?
I enthusiastically, as a hardworking taxpayer of this country of ours, uphold its values (honesty, mateship, no BS and a fair go) and even I'm confused.
In our modern era, we're a country built on the backs of another country's prisoners. Bushrangers are our champions. And we (and I!) celebrate larrikins and rebels. We worship civil disobedience. The Eureka Stockade was a watershed moment in our history, and our Southern Cross flag (and tattoo!) was born. Our best racehorses are our greatest national heroes. As for our footballer "warriors"... I accidentally sat near some American visitors during last year's NRL Grand Final and my pride was palpable as they marvelled over the toughness of our players, who DON'T WEAR ANY PADDING!
But you put a piece of sandpaper down your pants and watch out. It cuts to the heart of our culture like well, sandpaper to the, well... you know whats. And while I don't condone cheating, I acknowledge it's also very Australian to admit when you've done something wrong and take your punishment on the chin.
I'll make a bet with you.
When Steve Smith walks back out on that pitch next summer, he is going to get a cheer as loud as that for Winx.
Samantha co-hosts Sunrise, 5.30am weekdays, on the Seven Network.