Australia is the land of the fair go. Every Prime Minister since John Howard has rallied the nation with this beloved Aussie phrase—and many before him have too. In fact, the words “fair go” have a history going back as far as the shearers’ strike of 1891.
Our emphasis on fairness can also be seen in contrast to other cultures. Many an Aussie travelling abroad has been surprised by the hierarchies seen elsewhere, whether the deep respect shown us as guests in Asia, the class-consciousness of the British, or the excessive honour Americans show their leaders.
Something about all this can make Australians uncomfortable because we tend to be very egalitarian at heart. Centuries of struggle, migration and mateship on this continent have forged in us a deep commitment to the equality of every person, regardless of age, status, ethnicity, gender or creed.
As a nation, we haven’t always lived out this ethic perfectly; indeed, even today, many in Australia battle disadvantage. But we take seriously the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, which recognises “the inherent dignity and… inalienable rights of all members of the human family”.
For us, these aren’t just words. To see proof of this, all we need to consider is how many people from around the world arrive on our shores each year to call Australia home.
We should be appalled then, when we see fairness being undermined in some of our laws and institutions.
Over the last few decades, anti-discrimination laws, so called hate-crime legislation, and laws on religious and sexual vilification have been passed in the name of compassion. But the effect they’ve had is to undermine religious freedom and freedom of conscience and speech, depriving many Australians of a fair go.
Unfair state-sponsored sex education programs are taking away the rights of parents to decide when and what kind of sexual values are taught to their children. The Canberra Declaration has campaigned on these issues and spoken up for Aussie kids, and with your help will continue to do so.
Under the banner of fairness, there have been recent calls to ban so-called “gay conversion therapy”. This term conjures up images of manipulative control and electric shock treatment. But not only is this nowhere to be seen in modern Australia; what some seek to ban is simply prayer and counselling for people who themselves want freedom from unwanted inclinations.
The pre-born have it especially tough. With 70,000–80,000 abortions happening each year in Australia—and the majority of these being for elective rather than medical reasons—children have only a 1 in 5 chance of making it out of the womb alive.
For those who do make it out alive, life has been made more unfair recently with the redefinition of marriage. Now it is even less likely that an Australian child will be raised by their biological parents.
These are not the hallmarks of a fair society. If we want to remain a great beacon of fairness among the nations of the world, we must campaign for laws that promote the rights and freedoms that have brought equality to all, and not just for some.