My very dear and very German mate Claus became an Aussie last Friday afternoon. It was a warm autumn afternoon standing outside waiting at the Town Hall. I couldn’t believe how many gays were converting.
I sat down in Claus’ circle of friends and we purveyed the goods the seas had brought to this hall – from many different countries, reasons and intents.
Clover made her welcomes known in her typical down-to-earth manner, much to the point where I welled up when she said she welcomed our new Australians. Alex Greenwich was slick and wonderfully articulate, claiming the word ‘husband’ in his speech – which kind of didn’t fit considering we can have none of that here in Oztralyia.
Nonetheless, I welled up again in the anthem. It was such a touching ceremony. I can’t imagine having to make or wanting to make a decision to change my citizenship to another country. I am so lucky to have been born here. I asked Claus what he was feeling sans parents and close German friends from home, collecting his certificate from the Mayor.
He felt ‘good’ as he puts it. It’s our Claus, he doesn’t say much more than that. I do know by looking at him, he felt relieved, happy and for all intents and purposes – accomplished.
From living in East Germany, still divided then, hoping for a new life in Australia, it’s taken him many years to get to this point. I was proud of him and his achievement. We snacked on Anzac biscuits, lamingtons and Australian sparkling wine – it’s a shame that our anthem extends itself to the first line in real life ‘all let us rejoice’ for we are young and free (and gay), yet we can’t accomplish as a nation a sentiment we’ve even tucked away into the virtually unknown second verse of song. ‘For those who’ve come across the seas, we’ve boundless plains to share’.
Given the boat arriving in Geraldton the other night, I dare say we aren’t dipping sponge cake into chocolate and coconut to welcome these souls.
We continue to undertake our fair share of asylum seekers. I know this much, we are a smart and fiscally strong country – surely we can work something out with these desperate people.
As much as I support the Anzac cookie ceremony behind the Town Hall door, I also believe we need to answer the humanitarian door knock on our seas.