To help readers get a bit of perspective and rise above the depression or elation of the election outcome, I thought I’d draw attention to an interesting post by Andrew Leigh of Imagining Australia (the blog rather than the book), where he nominated the three best things Australia has given the world.
Andrew nominated the “fair go”, secret ballot and the Australian crawl (aka freestyle swimming stroke). He gives his reasoning in this newpaper article in the Sunshine Coast Daily. I’m radically unconvinced that Australia can claim credit for giving the world the notion of people getting a “fair go”, but I don’t think I’d quibble with his other two nominations. I think I’d probably substitute lithium treatment for bipolar disorder (aka manic depression) instead of the “fair go” nomination. It was developed in 1949 by Australian psychiatrist John Cade, and remains a firstline treatment for bipolar sufferers (e.g. Rene Rivkin).
Andrew’s mate Peter Fyfe submitted an alternative list of three best things Australia has given the world, consisting of irony (which he seems to define as taking the piss out of people), cutting down tall poppies, and the sausage sizzle. Distinctly dubious, but funny explanations.
Nominations for other nations included the US – baseball, jazz and the US Constitution; and England – tea, the presumption of innocence and the English language.
Reader nominations or quibbles for any of Australia, the US or England will be entertained in the comment box. Remember that it’s the three best things the country has contributed, not just the most prominent. If the criterion was prominence alone, you might nominate Rolf Harris, Neighbours and Nicole Kidman or Kylie Minogue as Australia’s contributions, but you’d be hard pressed to argue they’re best at anything.