Australia Day has come and gone. We have named and rewarded so many worthy Australian citizens, including a number from our local communities.
I would particularly like to join the cheer squad for Diana Alexander from Lockhart, who was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for service to education and to the community. I met Diana when I became principal at Lockhart Central School in 1978. Her recorder bands and choirs soon formed the basis of the Lockhart School Band, and even the revival of the Lockhart Town Band. Diana is a worthy recipient of the honour.
Reading through the reports about Australia Day ceremonies online, it was Tanya Plibersek's speech that caught my eye - a wonderful, very appropriate speech. But one that showed that within Australia, particularly the Twittersphere, we have some very nasty, disloyal people.
Ms Plibersek is Labor's spokeswoman for education and training.
"My parents once stood in your shoes, in the years after World War II. They came from Slovenia in search of new opportunities and a new life," she told citizenship candidates as she approached the end of her speech.
She mentioned our disastrous summer. "There's been little chance for relaxation. The situation has been too dangerous. Too many people have lost too much ... the bushfire crisis has drawn Australians together. It's been inspiring to watch." She also spoke of "Australians who have given what they can".
Ms Plibersek also spoke "to every single Australian who donated money from their tight household budget. This has been patriotism at its practical best; patriotism as the thread connecting us all as Australians."
To all of us, I would have thought, reciting this pledge would give a warm inner glow. It's what we believe. The happy faces of people accepting Australian citizenship reflects that they value being Australian.
She then added: "I've always loved the citizenship pledge new Australians recite on days like this. 'From this time forward, I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties I respect, and whose laws I will uphold and obey'."
To all of us, I would have thought, reciting this pledge would give a warm inner glow.
It's what we believe. The happy faces of people accepting Australian citizenship reflects that they value being Australian.
So what could have upset the Twitter mob? Patriotism! Ms Plibersek added: "Every Australian school student should learn this, and think carefully about what it means." If still working in schools, I would have taken her message back and added it to the weekly assembly.
Google her speech. She defines patriotism in several ways. "Patriotism, like mateship, is about solidarity. It's about what we owe each other as citizens." She talked about how patriotism means we are not alone in this life, "we have 25 million people in our corner when we need it". Maybe not 25 million. The ABC's Wendy Harmer tweeted: "I'm an #okboomer, stood in the quadrangle when I was a kid in the 60s and saluted this nonsense. No way would I have wanted my own kids to 'cheerfully obey the law'." Yes, in my time I met one or two parents like that!
Another rambled: "You can't ignore history on colonialism. The word 'patriotism' has an ugly & repressive imperialist history in Australia - it appealed to a brutal antiquated Tory spirit." Not understanding what the day's about, another added: "Get real Tanya Plibersek. Apart from pledge debacle do you grasp how wage stagnation and insecure work means many of us can't afford/don't get holidays." One or two people on Twitter knew how to be civilised. One wrote after reading the tirade: "Nothing is ever perfect but you have always been a champion for the poor and disadvantaged, women's rights and education." Another added: "Wonderful speech Tanya, thank you. It should be something all Australians read."
The Greens don't like patriotism. Scott Ludlum asked "what on earth are you doing?" while a humourless Mehreen Faruqi tweeted: "How sad. Why not work to make students proud of our nation by taking a lead on justice for First Nations people, tackle the climate crisis and inequality."
I think that Ms Plibersek's speech was spot on, except for the political climate change dogma. Reading her speech in schools could be a good exercise in understanding what makes Australia the country we love and value.