It’s been over 30 years since we were introduced to each other and
perhaps you were beginning to wonder whether today would ever happen.
The thing is it never felt right before. But it does now. There is a
question I must ask you and I do hope you’ll say yes.
My dear adopted motherland of Australia,
I cried when mum told me we were moving here. I can still picture the
scene, as if I’m floating above it.
We’re sitting at the top of the carpeted stairs inside our two storey
cottage in the northwest of England. It’s 1980. I’m 8.
Mum’s 33 and has recently suffered the loss of her second husband – my
step-dad – to cancer.
But she’s met an architect from Brisbane and we’re off to live in you!
I cried, not because I didn’t want to meet you.
(I mean, this Aussie bloke that mum was about to marry was all sorts of
fun. He was into filming trains on his Super-8 camera, and we would
chase all over the English countryside.
He also designed The Big Pineapple. Which, as a child, I thought was
Even today, if you ever hear me on radio defending the Big Pineapple –
and I think I’m probably the only person in the media who still does –
now you know why!)
No, the reason I cried was because I would leaving my Dad behind in
Still, he bought me the 1981 Muppet Show annual at the airport… and you took us in.
Talk about a "Sliding Doors" moment. Where would I be today, if Mum and I
hadn’t come here? That moment – and you, Australia, my adopted
motherland – changed my life forever.
But I’ve been disrespectful towards you.
You educated me (even if that did mean sitting me next to one Kyle
Sandilands at Manly State School), you introduced me to my wife of 17
years, you employed me – including that dream uni job as mystery shopper
at McDonalds! (How can I ever forget sitting in loo at Maccas shoving a
thermometer into French Fries?) – and you embraced me in a very
prominent and public position as a breakfast radio presenter on your
In short, you have cared for me as you would one of your own.
Yet for all of these 32 years, I have continued to think of another as
It has taken me all this time, but I finally see how this must hurt and
So today, I am writing to ask – dear Australia, please can we formalise
our relationship? Will you have me as an Aussie?
Perhaps you’re wondering - why now? What’s changed?
Well, it’s complex and even I don’t fully understand well enough to
articulate why I’ve never asked you before.
When people do find out that I’m not a citizen – and it’s been so long
that most just assume I am (a very good friend of mine was shocked when I
told her why I was writing you this letter. She had no idea) – I’ve
always just said:
I love you, I live in you, I pay taxes to you, I hope to die in you, but
I just need to hold on to something from my past. And that something
has been the fact that I am British and not Australian.
Yes, I know you can be both. In fact, I kindly went and made my son a
dual citizen without asking him first.
But I always had this fear that the British Government would pull the
pin on dual citizenships and I’d be left without that link to the UK –
which really means a link to my father, who still lives there.
I always said it was something in my heart that I didn’t feel the need
to justify – and I stand by that. No one should pressure you into
something so deeply personal.
And I always considered it a blessing that, as someone whose job
involves talking on radio about politics, I simply cannot vote. I have
never had to crystalise in my mind which side of politics I would
But a couple of things have brought me round.
At the deli, I picked up a free magazine called “The Local Bulletin”.
It’s all about Kenmore and surrounding suburbs. And inside was a
photograph of a small, local citizenship ceremony.
I never fancied the big flashy showy affair at City Hall – the one
that’s on the telly every Australia Day, boasting it’s the biggest in
Suddenly I saw the beauty in becoming Australian alongside others from
my suburb and community – people I would bump into at the shops or
Secondly, just before election day in September, a couple of recent
arrivals to Australia were bemoaning the fact they couldn’t vote. They
wanted to but couldn’t yet. That made me realise the value of being
able to – and that I shouldn’t throw that privilege away.
And then, for some bizarre reason, I keep thinking about a scenario
where I’m convicted of something – no, I’m not planning to join a bikie
gang, or even chalk “I heart bikies” on the footpath – but in theory, I
could be deported to the UK.
Thousands of miles from wife Nikki and son Jack and you, dear Australia.
I don’t want to think about life without you.
So you see how you’ve changed me? You can’t entirely take England out
of the boy, but this boy left England long ago. He just didn’t realise
Australia, I have loved you for a long, long time. Will you have me as
one of your own?
I know you’ll want to put me through a test. I don’t want to sound
cocky, but I’m pretty confident. In fact, I am refusing to look at the
sample questions online.
I might not be able to spell Kosciusko or Palazszuk without checking,
but I do know Bradman’s batting average so I’ll think I’ll go alright.
Are you going to ask me to quote some lines from that Franky Walnut
song? I do hope so! I’ve been learning the words:
“I’m as Australian as a sheep’s turd in the shape of Australia riding on
the back of a sheep named Bruce who’s been shorn in the shape of
Australia/I’m as Australian as a pie that’s been run over by a ute being driven
by John Williamson while he narrates a documentary about Australia/I’m as Australian as a red-back spider and a funnel-web spider having a
root inside a kangaroo scrotum purse/I’m as Australian as/I’m as Australian as.”
My dear Australia, I have attached the official paperwork. I await your
Yours, if you’ll have me,
PS I may still support England in the Ashes
PPS Can I let you know after the Second Test?