Saturday, August 04, 2012

Saturday Morning Meander - far too introspective?

Another Saturday morning meander. I just don't feel like writing a thought piece!

Here in Australia, there has been growing angst at the country's failure to attract more Olympic medals. Being beaten in the medal tally by New Zealand (Kiwi medal surge leaves Australia languishing) rubs salt into the wounds. Tsk. I am very happy to take my Kiwi half and cheer NZ on! I think that it was Trevor Cook who commented that Australians were behaving like bad parents at a school sporting event. There is some truth in that, although I think that most Australians are just enjoying the spectacle.

As I watched the early coverage with its focus on Team GB, I wondered idly just what all this might do to the Scottish National Party drive for independence for Scotland. In an earlier train reading inspired series (Train Reading - Norman Davies The Isles: a history 1) I discussed the idea of being British. The Games have restated the idea of Britain as opposed to the separate nations that make up the Isles. I find the evolving story of Britain interesting, for here you have a country (Britain) made up of nations seeking a balance between the two.

The PNG elections were interesting. In Stories of the New England diaspora 1 - introduction I referred to the attempts by Sir Kina Bona KBE to enter the PNG parliament. He appears to have been unsuccessful. That was just a local, parochial, interest on my part. More broadly, in DFAT misses an opportunity in PNG, Danielle Cave looks at the troubled relationship between Australia and PNG. The post begins:

The PNG-Australia relationship has had a pretty rough year. Comparisons can be made with the fragility of our relationship with Indonesia – seemingly small issues can trigger a large backlash. Despite the breadth and depth of the relationship and our shared history, there is a new tension in the air that I'm not sure has been there before.

I have written before about Australia's neglect of its neighbours, including PNG and Indonesia. It's not so much an official problem as a media one. There is just very little consistent decent reporting in this country on our neighbours. I read the Australian media, print as well as on-line, quite intensively. If I were to rely on Australian media reports, I would have no real idea as to what is happening in our block. I think that's a rather major failure.

Danielle's post refers to the influence of the social media in PNG in forming views about Australia. I found that interesting.

Will Owen's unDisclosed: the Triennial returns refers to a new exhibition on Aboriginal art at Australia's National Gallery that I had missed. I really like Aboriginal art. The difficulty I have, and it was one that that I referred to in conversation with an Aboriginal colleague a week back, is that the constant focus in discussions on Aboriginal history and life about the evils of the past creates a barrier to a real understanding of both Aboriginal people themselves and their contribution to Australian culture and life.

I have tried to respond by localising, by focusing on the Aborigines as people in a context. There is a demand for real information. I find it interesting that Report of the NSW Aborigines Welfare Board, year ended 30 June 1940 is the highest visited page on this blog. With 5,107 page views, it is over 800 page views in front of the next highest visited post.

As a blogging independent, I cannot provide universal coverage at real depth. What I can hope to do, and perhaps this is not a bad thing given my personal limitations, is simply chip away. In a comment on the New England New State Movement Facebook page,  I wrote:

Thanks, Paul. It's interesting. We have both had our failures. But one of the things about having experienced dreams, visions if you like, that have been at least partial successes is that we know what is possible. However, dreams have to be refreshed, constantly restated, if we are to share them with other, if we are to move forward. It's hard. We just have to try, to drive!

I was writing this in a particular context, one triggered by UNE, its future and that of its colleges. That was my local concern. But, more broadly, the statement remains true.

This meander has taken me in a different direction from my that I had intended. I guess that reflects my current personal concerns. So I will finish with a comment that I have made before.

To my blogging colleagues and commenters, keep going. You challenge me. You keep me constantly refreshed. I may disagree with you, but without you my dreams, the evolving ideas that are central to my life, would be so much poorer. You are a remarkable lot!    


Evan said...

Hi Jim, re the neighbours; even India doesn't get much coverage. Those closer are even worse. And the pacific islands barely exist!

Hope you have a good weekend.

Rod said...

Now that New Zealand is being more successful at the Olympics maybe that will remind us that the pacific, and other neighbours do actually exist? The USA has been known to be very self-obsessed, do you think that Australia is becoming the USA of the south?

Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks, Evan. Weekend = school football post tomorrow. Rod, and this bears upon Evan's point as well, Australia has long been like the US so far as its neighbors are concerned. A sort of divine blind arrogance that translates to cringe if someone is more important tan us!

Legal Eagle said...

I think it's good for us that we aren't doing so well for once. Maybe we will have to look at other countries for once.

Anonymous said...

"A sort of divine blind arrogance that translates to cringe if someone is more important tan us!"

You say that as if it's extraordinary in the tribal mind of any country. Think France, China, and don't engage South Africa on mere whim.

"Team GB" - never mind Northern Ireland with its several quite significant contributions. Maybe we should be "Team ANZ"? Tweak the logo, close out a few futures contracts... That could work?


Jim Belshaw said...

Fair point, kvd, but its especially true of certain countries, especially those in the big fish, small pond class. Interesting point on Northern Ireland.