The Satchel Review - Friday 27th January, 2012

Did you know the first daily newspaper in Australia was the Australian founded by WC Wentworth in 1824?
The Four 'n' Twenty meat pies and tomato sauce stowed away, our patriotic pride laid to rest for another day, it was back to work and to school today, that is if the rain waters aren't keeping you away. 

For the kids of south-east Queensland, the beginning of the school year has been a bit of a fizzer. Barely a chance to scribble a sentence within freshly contacted exercise book pages, some were sent home or deterred from attendance as their teachers couldn't navigate the rising waters on the roads and, well, it might not be safe. 

"Yippee!" said the kidlings, "Oh, no," said the mums hoping to have some reprieve this week (alas, it was not to be... out with the craft and the DVDs!).

Australia Day was similarly a day of mixed feelings. Patriotic pride put aside as we took in images of unrest in Canberra – anger, violence, contempt – it has been a time to reflect on the healing of a hurting nation and the meaning behind the proposed amendments to our Constitution.

A referendum to change the constitution to recognise our land's original inhabitants is expected to proceed in 2013, but recent events may have put a dampener on the idea while further entrenching the racism of rednecks. 

Just this week, neurosurgeon Charles Teo, the son of Chinese immigrants who gave the Australia Day address, said an undercurrent of racism does exist in Australia and should be recognised as such in an interview

"My daughter doesn't like Australia Day because she has in the past dressed up, got into the spirit of things... worn the green and gold and been told by drunk Australians to go home because she looks Chinese," he said.  "That's so sad because you can't get more Australian than my daughter."

So close but so far away has been a familiar refrain. 

"An aggressive, divisive and frightening protest such as this has no place in debates about the affairs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples or in any circumstances," said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Michael Gooda. "The point could have been made more peacefully and respectfully."

The Aboriginal camp has put the whole event down to incitement (not excitement) from Tony Abbott and retaliation by the police, while Prime Minister Julia Gillard came off wonderfully despite the fright and losing her shoe: her gesture in attending to Abbott's welfare was quite the heartwarming treat. 

Knowing full well how referendums can turn pear-shaped for those all for change (only eight of 44 referendums have succeeded in their cause thus far), there is reason to worry about popular opinion which may, indeed, have been swayed or inflamed by the event. The watering down of proposed pokie reforms to protect prolific gamblers was another contentious issue this week in public debate. 

Original Yellow Wiggle Greg Page was reinstated amidst declarations of sympathy for the ousted Sam Moran, and Geoffrey Rush was named Australian of the Year, telling us, "I feel sure my colleagues will see this as an endorsement of our national story of creativity". Demographer Bernard Salt said there's more to our national identity than "swagmen, jumbucks and Snowy River brumbies", as, "We are more likely now to drink wine than beer and latte than tea". 


The Australian Open was welcome home entertainment for those of us who have spent the most part of the week indoors. Rafael Nadal beat Roger "Nice Guy" Federer for a place in the final, while a vocally charged Maria Sharapova will compete with Victoria Azarenka for the women's trophy. 

Goyte's "Somebody That I Used To Know (Feat Kimbra)" won the Triple J Hottest 100 song, while his In Your Light' and 'I Feel Better' also made the cut. Speaking of cuts, the International Monetary Fund has pared back its prediction for Australia's economic growth in 2012, downgrading us from 3.3 to 3 per cent. Still, that's better than growth for last year, which hovered around 2 per cent.

In other financial news, while Gina Rinehart's considerable wealth continues to expand (diamonds, uranium, oil and gas are reportedly her new targets), it's anticipated that the legal battle that has seen three of her children challenge her role as trustee in a family trust, thus far suppressed by her lawyers, will be heard in the High Court.

Closer to home, GWAS photographer Sophie's mum, Susan Rossi, has won an international award. As Director of Interior Design for a billion-dollar Abu Dhabi development undertaken by Queensland architects DBI Design, Rossi has spent the past six years on the assignment, which trumped major projects in Paris, Hong Kong and London to win the 'World's Leading New Hotel Award'.

"Pretty proud of her," said Sophie. Go, Mum!

Girl With a Satchel