Speak Up

Mateship Day

By Shelley Scoullar

There is a lot of debate about the date of Australia Day and whether it should be January 26, but personally the date doesn't bother me because it is the meaning which is most important..

For me Australia Day should be about celebrating what we value about our nation, which has seen a great deal of change over the last 230 years. It is what each of us feel contributes to making us the lucky country, and is a chance to reflect on what we can be thankful for.

While I am certainly grateful for the freedom of speech our great country has, because I certainly wouldn’t be blogging away and expressing my strong views without it, at the top of my list Australia stands for mateship and a fair go.

So what is a fair go? Well I believe it is being able to be the best you can, to be allowed to pursue your chosen career (as long as it isn’t illegal!), to have equal opportunity to resources, to be treated fairly and respectfully and to be valued if you are contributing to the good of the nation.

Mateship, in my opinion, is about helping out a neighbour, even if you don’t know them, lending a hand when someone you don’t know is in trouble or down on their luck. But most importantly it is about being honest and speaking the truth.

Unfortunately, the values of Australia Day have been challenged of late. As a food producer who wants to contribute to the national economy and producing food for our people and the rest of the world I do not think we have been treated with mateship and a fair go.

The South Australian Government has not been entirely truthful with its own people about food producers in the Southern Basin, and it has not been honest about the management of the Lower Lakes, Coorong and Murray Mouth. The worst part is there are a number of leaders in the country not prepared to stand up to the misinformation and unfairness which is preventing others from getting a fair go. They are not mates. Is it fair that we jeopardise the future for some of the most efficient food and fibre producers in the world so that others can turn a once estuarine system into a fresh water one, with million dollar housing developments and yacht parking facilities? Is it fair to remove over 4 Sydney harbours of water from farmers to make an estuarine system fresh and then let it evaporate or run out to sea, while at the same time that state diverts vast quantities of water which once flowed into the system out to sea?

Mates don’t do that. The whole Murray Darling Basin Plan is certainly un-Australian and to me puts a dampener on everything there is to be valued about the day.