There were times in our past when Australia was seen as the great hope of the world – when it offered a vision of a new democratic life free from the failures of the past and the old world.
There were two such times, when Australia had the chance and rose to the occasion. The first was in the 19th Century when it was seen as the land of opportunity unshackled by the limitations of the ageing, ossified, constricted world of Britain and Europe. The second opportunity was in the late 1940s and the 1950s when thousands of migrants flocked here to build a new life after the carnage and devastation of World War 2.
It seems we have turned from our history, from the bright vision of the nineteenth century and the great nation-building vision of the period after World War 2, with its sense of optimism and fairness, towards something much more pinched and narrow – mean and weak-willed.