The Three Best Things

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.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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akman
akman
2022 years ago

There’s also that H. pylori guy. Everyone loves H. pylori.

Martin Pike
2022 years ago

Tea is from india or china isn’t it?

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Martin

Yes, I think you’re right (China from memory), but I thought I’d leave that for someone else to point out (i.e. you).

Akman

A quick Google reveals that Helicobacter pylori was discovered by Australian Dr Barry Marshall in the early 1980s, and has had a dramatic effect on treatment of peptic ulcers. So yes, maybe an even more important Australian medical advance, at least in the sense that I think ulcers affect more people than manic depression.

observa
observa
2022 years ago

Mark Lithium it is then. He must have been a bit low on the stuff when he was pumping Howard’s hand at that chance meeting.

John Quiggin
John Quiggin
2022 years ago

Compulsory seat belt laws

Preferential (instant-runoff) voting

I’ll endorse Australian crawl as symbolic of beach culture generally

Ron Brunton
Ron Brunton
2022 years ago

Although there is some debate about the origins of the Australian crawl, there are good grounds for thinking that it was a Solomon Islander, Alick Wickham, who first introduced a form of the stroke — which was used in a number of Pacific Islands — to Australians at Bronte Baths at the end of the 19th century. Although it was further developed by Australians, perhaps it should be known as the ‘Melanesian crawl’.

Yobbo
Yobbo
2022 years ago

Australian Rules Football, The Combine Harvester, World Series Cricket.

Yobbo
Yobbo
2022 years ago

Oh, and the Wine Cask.

David Tiley
2022 years ago

Tim Tams.
The pencil camera (essential now in sports broadcasts)
The chinese burn (the grip that unites a nation.)

Just to prove there’s more than three. Oh, and for another definition of Australian –
boomerang, woomera, didgeridu

I know they were invented elsewhere as well, but they started here first.

Rex
Rex
2022 years ago

The Stump Jump Plough

We gave it to the world. They rejected it. Ingrates!

Shaun
Shaun
2022 years ago

What about Howard Florey and Penicillin?

not big enough?

mark
2022 years ago

Oh, big enough, Shaun, big enough. But in the Rest of the World, Alexander Fleming tends to be the fellow who gets most of the credit. I don’t remember why, now, but there’s a reason.

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

The Ute, the most useful thing on four wheels ever, was invented in Australia by Lou Brandt, a 22 year old designer at Ford Geelong, responding to a Gippsland farming woman’s request for something “we can go to town on Sunday and take the pigs to market on Monday.”

Howard Florey worked out how to mass produce penicillin and save millions of lives – after some tartan bastard wworked out why his lunchtime snack of boiled and jellied animal parts hadn’t gone off.

Norman Gunston was the first person to give global figures a faceful of Australian attitude.

That’s my three.

Oh and three and a half. If an Aussie hadn’t worked how lithium could be used to treat manic depression, “Apocalypse Now”

wen
wen
2022 years ago

But sadly Nab, due to the invention of seatbelts, the utes (in it’s original form — dual cabs don’t count) utility has diminished a little…. and those young fellas that roar around our town in their spotlessly clean chromed-up machines never seem to have even a dog in the back — let alone a pig!