When I’m introducing people I’ll often say “This is Zara, we’ve been mates since school” and it’s helped me get out of trouble when I’ve forgotten someone’s name: “Mate how are you? It’s been ages!”
But what does this colloquial term actually mean? One of the best definitions I’ve read states mateship is: “An Australian code of conduct, emphasizing egalitarianism and fellowship.”
It sums up what we value as Australians – doing the right thing, being given a fair go, supporting each other.
Mate, though, is not technically synonymous with male.
But that’s a mistake our diplomatic corps in Washington DC seems to have made when you consider their US/Australian Patrons of Mateship list.
It’s a group of 15 prestigious Australians and Americans who, apparently, embody the spirit of mateship.
DFAT defined it further:
“The Mateship program is a public diplomacy initiative run by the Embassy of Australian in Washington DC. The program aims to highlight Australia’s strong military alliance with the United States over the past 100 years in the lead up to the centenary of the battle of Hamel on 4 July 2018.”
Fair enough. A typical diplomatic program – noble in ambition, but lacking in definition.
Here’s the full list – look carefully to see if you notice any trends:
· Malcolm Turnbull
· Kevin Rudd
· John Howard
· George H.W Bush
· John Berry
· Tom Scheiffer
· Melvin F. Sembler
· Michael Thawley
· Andrew Peacock
· Don Russell
· Michael Cook
· FR Dalrymple
· Jimmy Carter
· Kim Beazley
· Matthew Dellavedova
Some of them you’ll know, but others you may have to google, like I did.
Essentially, it’s a non partisan list of former Presidents, Prime Ministers, Ambassadors and a sportsman – basketballer Matthew Dellavedova.
There’s no question all the men on this list have influenced Australia, if not the world. But that’s the point. This is an ALL MALE, monocultural list. And that’s un-Australian.
Malcolm Turnbull, John Howard, Kevin Rudd are all Patrons of Mateship – why did Julia Gillard not make the cut?
Did FR Dalrymple really make more of an impact on US/Australia relations than Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell and Hillary Clinton?
And if Mateship Patrons include sports stars, why is Ben Simmons not listed? He’s arguably already Australia’s best male basketball talent export, a rising star and newly anointed rookie of the year after his stellar season in Philadelphia.
— Australia in the US 🇦🇺🇺🇸 (@AusintheUS) June 26, 2018
But even he doesn’t come close to Australia’s best ever basketball export – Lauren Jackson. The 3 time WNBA Most Valuable Player isn’t listed either – I wonder why?
No athlete like Storm’s Lauren Jackson in Seattle sports history | The Seattle Times ❤️ https://t.co/MNCB1s80X6
— Lauren Jackson AO OLY (@laurenej15) July 16, 2016
This list is myopic and lazy and it’s not at all representative of Australia or the United States.
For the first time, Australia has a female Foreign Minister and a female head of DFAT. But it seems the same monumental change isn’t filtering through at an embassy level, or certainly not under Joe Hockey. (He was also at the helm for the prominent Australian and American business leaders summit in February where 8% of invitees were women.)
— Femeconomy (@ourFemeconomy) March 2, 2018
In both the USA and Australia half the population is female and in every state and territory, in both countries, you’ll find people from all ethnicities and nationalities.
To have a monocultural list purportedly encapsulating our ‘mateship’ screams of a stitch up.
Who is making and signing off on these decisions?
When these high profile men (including our current Prime Minister) are invited to be a Patron and see their name next to a sea of just other men’s names, do they not think to ask questions?
I understand our public service is busy and coping with stretched resources. So instead of just complaining, I thought we could help the Embassy out by crowdsourcing who you think has had an impact on Australian/US relations.
So, mate, have your say in this survey and let DFAT know who you think embodies mateship.