Note to readers: This post is one in a series using personal examples to illustrate why I continue to support both agitation for New England self-government and self-government itself. Agitation, because its very existence forces forces the Sydney Government to consider New England interests. Self-government, because there are some things that we cannot achieve without this.
It has been a little while since my last post in this series. I was reminded of the need to start again be a lunch time conversation here in Sydney. It was a work group.
The conversation turned to history. One remarked that the Welsh really just complained, while the Scots had sought independence for a long while. A second, that there had never been an Australian equivalent. I mentioned New England, but was cut off because (to the audience) it seemed odd and irrelevant. Yet the specific example I was giving went back in history to the point at which NSW was on the point of civil war.
Looking round the table, I realised that of the eight of us, only three were born in Australia. Of the three, one had New England links and was interested. Of the overseas born, none had had any access to any form of New England history.
Having one's personal history rejected as not important is obviously a pain. But there is a broader issue.
Those sitting around that table actually make decisions that affect New England. They all see New England in terms of a series of sub-regions with little understanding of the linkages between areas. They also see New England within a metro frame set by NSW statistical divisions and definitions.
There is nothing to force modern decision makers to consider the broader New England interest. Everything becomes fragmented.
In saying this, I am not in any way impugning the character of decision makers in NSW or nationally. Many care passionately about the things they work on. Yet the system they work in works against New England.
In a way we have created this position ourselves.
Since the decline of the New England New State Movement after the 1967 referendum loss, since New Englanders became locked into their narrow local or regional worlds, there has been nothing to force outsiders to consider us as other than a series of small and separate areas.
We cannot expect others to consider our broader needs if we cannot articulate and argue them ourselves.