Contributed by Joe Montero
Yesterday (3 December) marked the 165th anniversary of the military attack on the Eureka Stockade in 1854.
The troopers sent to crush the rebellion opened fire and killed. Although the stockade was overwhelmed, it drew the outrage of the population, which shared the aspirations of the rebels. Melbournians marched in the streets in huge numbers, to support those arrested and demand their freedom. Estimates at the time said that at least half of the population of the city took part.
The court was compelled to eventually free the prisoners, and a political movement that led to many changes was born.
Leader Peter Lawler eventual became the Premier of Victoria. More important is that the new political movement became the force that brought about the universal vote and eventually won the end of colonial status and self-government in 1901.
Eureka was an important component of the birth of the Asutralian unio movement, during the post gold period.
Anywhere else, an event of such importance, which could be said gave birth to Australia as a nation, would be officially celebrated. It is not. Instead, those who hold real political power do everything to bury it. They deny that Eureka forms an important part of the Australian story.
Why is this? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the rebels stood up for their rights and against authoritarian government.
Although the catalyst was the mining license imposed on the gold diggers and its brutal policing, underlying it, was that many of those who migrated to the new land had escaped European the legacy of feudal class rule and the power of the relatively recently emerged factory owners.
British Chartism, the political trend that led to the rise of the trade union movement, had a strong influence. So did republicanism and the idea that we should all be equal and ordinary people should be the decisive voice in society.
These ideas were turned on the colonial authorities, and the small group of land holding and rich squatters holding power, in partnership with the British banks and wool processing factory owners.
The rebels raised the Eureka flag, which represented their aspiration for a new society.
Eureka was also the birthplace of multicultural Australia. Immigrants from many countries stood together as one. The merging Chinese population gave its support, as did First Nations people.
From this moment, Australians stopped being colonial subjects and became members of a new nation.
Eureka also showed that it is up to ordinary people to make a stand and change the course of history.
This is not the sort of legacy that is to the taste of those who are now in control. The rest of us might want to complete unfinished business.
A foreign monarch still stands as head of state. The republican ambition of Eureka has still not been completed.
Nor has the battle for democracy. Although there is the vote, the political system is still geared to serve the minority. Most do not really have an effective voice, when it can be bought and corruption runs rife.
Australia lacks real economic independence. Foreign multinationals play the decisive role in the economy and have an unhealthy influence on government.
In international politics, our governments act as minions for someone else.
Eureka points to what we must do to create a better future.