So Who the Bloody Hell Are We?: The Fair Go

So Who the Bloody Hell Are We?: The Fair Go

In this third instalment of our So Who the Bloody Hell Are We? series exploring Australian identity, Damien Carrick shepherds Melissa Lucashenko, Monica Dux, David Manne and Stuart Macintyre through an examination of the ‘fair go’.

Macintyre reveals the historical basis of the idea and the phrase, while Lucashenko questions whether, in the context of drastic inequality between white and black Australia, ‘fair’ means ‘fair-skinned’. Is the fair go part of a tired blokey mythology that excludes women, refugees and indigenous Australians?

Our panellists share their conflicted responses to Julia Gillard’s Australia Day speech, in which she beckoned Australians to “pursue with new determination the Aussie fair go, which alongside mateship, defines the spirit of our nation.”

Finally, they ask: are we being too hard on the fair go? And if the idiom is not to be taken too literally, what is the power of its emotional appeal? In what other, unexpected ways can it be functional?

Leave your comment

Does the Aussie fair go still mean anything? Can the term be reappropriated to be more meaningful or ‘real’?


Portrait of Stuart Macintyre

Stuart Macintyre

Stuart Macintyre has been chair of the Heritage Council of Victoria since 2015, and is regarded as one of Australia's most influential historians.

He's the former Dean of Arts at the University of Melbourne, and is Emeritus Laureate Professor of the University of Melbourne and a Professorial Fellow of the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies.

Portrait of Monica Dux

Monica Dux

Monica Dux is a columnist with the Age, and the author of Things I Didn’t Expect (when I was expecting) (2013), co-author of The Great Feminist Denial (2008), and editor of the forthcoming anthology Mothermorphosis (April 2015). She can be heard regularly on ABC radio and 3RRR, and has published widely, especially on women’s issues. Monica is a founding board member of the Stella Prize.

Portrait of David Manne

David Manne

David Manne is a human rights lawyer and Executive Director of Refugee Legal (previously the Refugee & Immigration Legal Centre (RILC)). He has worked in various capacities assisting refugees and asylum seekers for over 20 years. In January 2001, he joined Refugee Legal, at the forefront of defending the rights, the dignity and the lives of asylum seekers, refugees and disadvantaged migrants.

Portrait of Damien Carrick

Damien Carrick

Damien, a qualified lawyer, joined the ABC in 1996 as the producer of ABC Radio National’s Law Report and in 2001 became the presenter. In the past he has worked as a legal writer for the Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission and written for Australian Lawyer magazine.

Portrait of Melissa Lucashenko

Melissa Lucashenko

Melissa Lucashenko is a Goorie writer whose work celebrates Aboriginal people and others living around the margins of the First World. Her latest novel, Too Much Lip, won the Miles Franklin Literary Award and the Queensland Premier's Award for a work of State Significance. Her novel Mullumbimby was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and Stella Prize, shortlisted for the Kibble Literary Award, and won the Queensland Literary Award for Fiction and the Victorian Premier’s Award for Indigenous Writing. 

Listen to So Who the Bloody Hell Are We?: The Fair Go