'Bugger Off': Defiant Mayor Says True Aussies Can Become Citizens In Thongs
Shane Van Styn never wanted to be a hero. And in true Aussie fashion, that's exactly why he is one.
"It does my head in."
These are the bold, defiant words of Shane Van Styn, Mayor of Geraldton in Western Australia, in response to Scott Morrison's proposed formal dress code at Australia Day citizenship ceremonies -- with a ban on boardshorts, thongs and singlets.
Van Styn is as Aussie as brekky, boardies, sickies, mozzies, stubbies, dunnies, durries, Warney, and Warney with a durry bowling a googly to a bunny.
And in conversation with 10 daily today, it was as clear as the sparkling waters off Geraldton that he thinks the Prime Minister's plan is a few snags short of a barbie.
"Here in Geraldton, our ceremony is done down on the beach in between sets of music on our wonderful family foreshore in about 40 degree heat. If old mate new citizen wants to chuck on a pair of pluggers and celebrate all things Australian, then he should be able to do that."
Van Styn gets that being Australian is more than a nationality: it's an attitude.
"It does my head in where we'd lose the fact of Australia Day being a day of being Aussie and chillin' out," he told us.
"We are an egalitarian society. The process of becoming an Australian on Australia Day is about celebrating and being part of festivities."
Van Styn also understands another quintessential fact of Australian life: that we bloody well hate nosy politicians telling us how to live our lives.
"Australia Day is not a day when we expect newly arrived Australians to bow down to the overlord politicians and plead thanks for allowing them the honour of becoming Australian," he said.
"They've done that for the six or seven years it's taken them to become citizens. This is their day."
As this clear-thinking councilor sees it, on the day people officially become Australian it's their right -- nay, their national duty -- to wear thongs and a singlet or whatever they want "as long as they treat each other respectfully".
And really, isn't that what being Australian is all about? Showing respect through your actions rather than your choice of footwear or other clobber?
Australia is just about the only developed nation in the world where you can wear thongs into restaurants, bars, casinos, concerts, theatres and even weddings.
Because our toes might be ugly but their nobbly nakedness does not reflect who we are as people.
It's for this reason that Van Styn has started a change.org petition.
In clear defiance of the PM, he proudly proclaims:
"Whilst I am officiating Australia Day citizenship ceremonies as the mayor of the City of Greater Geraldton, if you want to emblazon yourself in an Australian singlet or wear boardies 'cause you are joining in the fun, I will let you up on stage and gladly welcome you as a new Australian.
"So ScoMo you Ocker, (albeit US cap-wearing) affable, fair dinkum Aussie. See it in your heart to set those pluggers free on Australia Day."
What a man. What a true blue hero for our times.
And like all the best Aussies, Shane Van Styn is unafraid to direct our most bonza piece of lingo fair and square at the most powerful person in the land: