Ital­ian tenac­ity an ex­am­ple of ‘Aussie suc­cess’

South Western Times - - News - Billy Kerr

We of­ten talk about the great “Aussie suc­cess” story for what­ever that means but I think Ital­ians are the great Aussie suc­cess story and in say­ing that I am show­ing a lit­tle of my bias here given that I am a paid-up cit­i­zen of Italy al­beit hav­ing never been to the place.

After the sense­less ter­ror­ist at­tack in Mel­bourne a lit­tle while back when Sisto Malaspina, the cof­fee shop mae­stro was mur­dered, he was re­mem­bered as a great Aus­tralian suc­cess story and rightly so too.

Ital­ians mi­grated to this coun­try in their thou­sands – many of them like my grand­fa­ther and all his mates – es­cap­ing a fas­cist gov­ern­ment and the Span­ish In­fluenza out­break in Europe that killed mil­lions of peo­ple. Among those who died were three of my grand­par­ents’ chil­dren and this per­sonal tragedy cou­pled to my grand­fa­ther’s dis­like of a Europe com­ing out of the most sav­age war in history, he like many oth­ers chose to leave.

Th­ese peo­ple changed the face of Aus­tralian cul­ture but it wasn’t easy as they were sub­jected to years of racist abuse, taunts and big­otry.

While the brood whose ori­gins were of the mother coun­try were smug in their con­tempt of the for­eign­ers of Europe, it wasn’t long be­fore they be­gan to em­brace a cui­sine that put old English food to the sword and a cul­ture of mu­sic, fes­tiv­ity, hard work and the oc­ca­sional bot­tle of plonk.

The tragedy of be­ing Ital­ian in the war years was that you were likely to have been im­pris­oned in labour camps in places like Har­vey and Love­grove in South Aus­tralia, where you dug the trenches for the ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem.

Th­ese peo­ple en­dured the pain of in­tern­ment but they held few grudges, in­stead opt­ing to even­tu­ally buy the farms they pre­vi­ously worked on as POWs and turn th­ese pad­docks into the food bowl of WA.

Ital­ians also brought with them the con­cept of chang­ing Prime Min­is­ters with alarm­ing reg­u­lar­ity and their colour­ful and con­tro­ver­sial po­lit­i­cal lead­ers were changed and re­cy­cled with gay aban­don.

For a while it seemed that this was a weekly event on the Ital­ian po­lit­i­cal stage and while it took the Aus­tralian po­lit­i­cal hacks some time to catch onto this con­cept, we have in the last decade cer­tainly em­braced it with some gusto.

The Ital­ian in­flu­ence in the South West epit­o­mises the Aus­tralian spirit of hav­ing the ca­pac­ity to con­front the en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­cial chal­lenges of build­ing a fu­ture in an­other coun­try.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.