She was outshone though by one of the state members whose speech touched on many progressive topics, such as moving Australia Day to commemorate universal suffrage rather than the invasion of Sydney, changing the flag, and stuffing John Howard. The poor old Mayor was almost having a fit in the background. Earlier in the evening he'd begun proceedings by linking respect for Australian citizenship with love of the flag and abhorrence of the idea of a new flag. He'd even read out a little poem and cried at the end of it when it described how the stars on the flag represent all of us under the Lord's sky, which I don't think is strictly accurate.
(I honestly don't understand the argument that "our soldiers fought and died for that flag". The people saying this do realize that the flag is just a symbol, right? Soldiers didn't die literally for the flag. It's just a figure of speech. It's not like there are hordes of undead Canadian soldiers who rose from their graves in outrage when Canada changed its flag in 1965.)
So it ended up being quite a political affair, what with these opportunistic stump speeches being flung all over the place. My Smaller Half and I staged our own little protest too. After the new citizens were sworn in (or affirmed in, for the small few who didn't wish to take a religious oath) everybody in the hall was invited to join in for an "optional" re-affirmation of allegiance. We independently and simultaneously decided that that sounded like a bunch of Seppo bullshit, but then the MC asked that everybody please rise and recite the affirmation. So we rose, but we didn't affirm. Fortunately we weren't asked to sign 17 copies of a Loyalty Oath before we were permitted to use the salt and pepper at lunchtime, but I can see where things are heading.
Here's the Australian Citizenship Affirmation:
As an Australian Citizen,I really don't think of laws as being something you have to promise to obey. They are rules, and if you break them you get punished, but you get to choose freely whether or not to break them. You have that liberty - it's the law. And those rights and liberties that I respect - I don't think promising to respect them is the best way to honour them. Perhaps you should exercise them. Exercise your rights. Exercise your rights to wave sixteen flags from your bogan ute while you break the speed limit wearing your racist t-shirt. You do that and I'll exercise my right not to participate in some half-baked loyalty oath crusade while also exercising my right to call you names in my courageous anonymous blog.
I affirm my loyalty to Australia and its people,
whose democratic beliefs I share,
whose rights and liberties I respect,
and whose laws I uphold and obey.
We can despise each other and respect our liberties, ignore the law and share the country. I love Australia!