It is the vice of the twenty-first century, and perhaps appropriate to imagine its mantras spoken in an aggressive whining Australian accent, for that land in Oceania once well known for rugged civic virtue has degenerated into a whining, preening self-regarding little pink princess intoxicated with self-love. Once Burke's little platoons had no better exemplar than Australia's local institutions and communities, bound together with a sense of service and duty to each other and to their nation. From across the vast ocean we admired the sangfroid with which they greeted adversity, and in London we admired their sporting excellence and their teamplay, a nation of strapping straight-backed young men who could ride, shoot, reef, splice and steer. Now they all seem to be short, camp, pasty and unhealthy-looking chartered accountants from Sydney with a liking for show tunes and Asian restaurants and an obsession with longevity.
So imagine that irritating antipodean whine intoning "I've got a right to be happy. It's my right" in justification for walking out on a ten-year marriage and three kids, or a lisping little sociopath declaring "I don't care what anyone else thinks" or our preening self-regarding little princess declaring "I owe it to myself to use any means necessary to get what I want"; it's the rule of 'my' 'me' and 'I' and there are no people on Earth who have taken to self-love like the Australians.
And now they are to be taught from the cradle that narcissistic self-regard is good. It's official. Australia's Girl Guides will no longer pledge "I will do my duty to God, to serve the Queen and my country" but rather whine in concert "I will be true to myself and develop my beliefs"
And as Gloria Gaynor in sequins establishes herself as Australia's new Marianne I'll mourn along with Tom Waits the day Matilda died.