I listened in awe today as Prime Minister Tony Abbott recounted the deeds of Corporal Cameron Steward Baird that ended up getting him killed in Afghanistan. Corporal Baird’s selfless actions clearly merited the award of the 100th Victoria Cross, and one hopes his incredible bravery will provide some little consolation for his loss to his family and friends.
The award took me back to the bravery of the ANZACs at Gallipoli in WWI, which has come to be seen as the event that finally turned Australia into a nation.
How such a defeat in the face of the Turks defending their nation in what was basically a misguided imperial conflict made Australia a nation has always eluded me, but I note with satisfaction the reconciliation and respect between Turkey, Australia and New Zealand that has subsequently developed for each other over the action that took place 99 years ago at Gallipoli.
In my opinion, Australia can only be considered a nation when it is able to honour its first inhabitants who fought courageously to resist being dispossessed of their tribal lands.
The indigenous people of Australia still require a treaty arising from what amounted to frontier wars, and Australia needs to be able to treat their forebears not as terrorists, but to honour them as defenders of their country.
In this respect, Australia still needs to grow up and come of age.