Who makes you proud to be Australian?


Who makes you proud to be Australian?The recipients of this year's Australian of the Year Awards will be announced at a ceremony in front of Parliament House, Canberra on Thursday. At this stage, the bookies' favourite is explorer, palaeontologist and climate expert Dr Tim Flannery, closely followed by Paralympic skiing notable Michael Milton.

Critics might suggest that the awards are manipulated by politicians, or point to the fact that a number of former recipients such as Alan Bond subsequently fell from grace. But the fact remains that the naming of role models is an important community-building exercise. It assists young people to set goals for themselves, and encourages older people to take pride in what they have achieved.

Over the past ten years, recipients have included scientists and sporting heroes, in almost equal numbers. Last year, it was Professor Ian Frazer, who has developed vaccines to prevent and treat cervical cancer. In 2004, it was former captain of Australia's Test Cricket team Allan Border, who said: "I see myself as an average guy who tries to help out my mates and loves my sport... I've always had to fight hard for my spot and to achieve what I have, and I've had to give 100%."

Who makes you proud to be Australian?One notable Australian who's not going to receive the honour this year is fellow cricketing great Shane Warne. Given his record of bad behaviour off the field, it would certainly be a controversial appointment. Former Olympian Dawn Fraser said recently: "I could never forgive Warne for what he has done to his ex-wife and family. When they ask whether he should be Australian of the Year, I am absolutely appalled."

However Warne should not be ruled out as recipient of the award at a later date. Arguably his greatness is a work in progress, and a genuinely repentant Shane Warne could make a fine Australian of the Year. Significantly, he does not deny his weaknesses. Conceivably he could progress to a thorough acknowledgement of his personal failings, and a forthright repentance.

His appointment following such a sequence of events, would represent a certain maturity on the part of the awards. The saints of the Church with which people can most readily identify are those like St Augustine, who have turned their backs on a sordid past to embrace a life of virtue. Greatness that follows conversion from moral bankruptcy is often more convincing.



submit a comment

Existing comments

Shane Warne, Asutralian of the Year? - You have got to be joking!
Andy Johnson | 24 January 2007

thier are more australians out their that are not in the news battlers like the people of king lake that have not got their money from the gove yet how about them a
michael whitehill | 23 January 2010

Similar Articles

Grip eluding PM's legacy

  • Jack Waterford
  • 22 January 2007

With so many matters in John Howard's political calculus beyond his capacity to influence or control – Iraq, Afghanistan, the Pacific crises, wheat scandals and water reform – he must be thinking it would be nice to have a hold on something.


Warne's world of Hollywood and the modern Ashes

  • Binoy Kampmark
  • 22 January 2007

Whatever criticisms have been levelled against Warnie, he is seen as the reviver of cricket. For better or worse, he brought cricket up-to-speed with other sports, in terms of quality, and scandal. Whatever criticisms have been levelled against Warnie, Australians remain loyal to his superiority. Warne is seen as the reviver of cricket, bringing slow bowling back from the desert.



Subscribe for more stories like this.

Free sign-up