Who are we?

Belinda Neal, at the time the Labor member for the seat of Robertson in the federal parliament, was reported to have said

Don’t you know who I am?

during an incident with staff at Iguanas nightclub on the central coast in June 2008. Mrs Neal went on to have a checkered career. Recently she was expelled from membership of the NSW Labor Party.

In Tasmania, in 2009 a government minister apologised after going on a tirade against a security guard and asking:

Don’t you know who I am?

In The Newcastle Song, Normie turns the spotlight from himself to a member of the Hells Angels by asking:

What are you?

So there are a number of questions people must confront:

  1. Who am I?
  2. What am I known as?
  3. Who are we (collectively)?
  4. What are we (collectively) known as?

As inhabitants of Australia question 3 is contemplated frequently.

The song I am Australian attempts to answer that question:

It has been said one can’t know who one is unless one first knows where one came from, and unless one knows both of those things, one can’t properly assess where one is going.

Sadly, there exist two schools of thought which are not useful in contemplating the future. The first is a slave to history, feels comfortable in the past and basically wishes the future to be a continuation of the present/past. The second, for whatever reasons, abhors the past, judges the past by the present and wishes the past didn’t exist (in action this means going to extreme lengths to obliterate all traces of the past) and sees the future in terms of a set of untested ideals.

With Daily Telegraph writers Daryl Passmore and Annabel Hennessy (“Growing strains”, Daily Telegraph, 3 November 2017, p.7) reporting:

  • Australia is expected to reach the Australian Bureau of Statistics 1998 predicted population of 24.9 million people in 2051 by mid 2018
  • Sydney is expected to reach a population of 9 million by 2051, three million more than the 1998 prediction for 2051.

now is not the time for inappropriate thinking. Proper, issues-based discussion is necessary.


Whilst it is important we all participate in the big canvas discussions, the reality for most is that we are too busy managing our own micro lives, and attending to “spot fires” in our own neighbourhoods, to do so in any meaningful way.

The inspiration for this post came from my chance discovery of an Irish singer Michael English whose work I am really impressed by. One of the songs he sings is  From The Highlands to Ireland :

On my mother’s side my heritage is a mixture of pure Scot and Irish (the Scots having made the trip across the Irish sea), so this song caused me to think about Australia – in Normie’s terms “What are you?”.

On my father’s side the heritage is English.

So as a white, male, baby boomer, Anglo-Saxon (kinda) Protestant (I’m an atheist but was brought up as an Anglican), the prevailing view on social media seems to be that my views are irrelevant and in some quarters that I should be shut up or shut down. However, I was never one to simply go along with the prevailing view.  Rather, I take and espouse the view which I consider to be the correct one.

To sign off this post I’m adding another two songs by my newly found star, Michael English.

First, The Blacksmith and the Barman:

Secondly, Ding Dong, Sing my Song:





Author: Duke of Darlo Rd

Kings Cross, Sydney resident

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