13

Advance Australia Where? (2001 and Beyond)

ENTERING THE THIRD MILLENNIUM

As we begin the third millennium of the current epoch, there appears to be very little common wealth left to be shared by the members of the Commonwealth of Australia. The signs seem to be of division and decline. In 1901, liberals, country folk, and members of the labor movement shared a common belief in the future of the new nation that made them essentially optimists. A century later, the optimism has gone, and the golden soil and wealth for toil that are celebrated in the national anthem seem a cruel dream to many in the community. Australia’s 19 million people are more divided than they have been since the convict days, and the easy egalitarianism that rode on the back of national abundance has been replaced by a fearfulness about a future in which the class divisions of the old world, that many had hoped had been left behind in 1901, have been replicated and even strengthened in the deepening economic and social fragmentation in the contemporary one. In June 2000, the national weekend newspaper the Australian led with a banner headline that announced the “Death of the Fair Go” and highlighted the despair and alienation of those sectors of the community like the rural population and the urban working poor that had become casualties of change and fallen behind the mainstream in the new privatized and economically rationalized economy. 1

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