A Secret Country

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The internationally acclaimed journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger has taken on the task of exposing Australia’s darker sides, from its unsavory past to its more current political woes. A SECRET COUNTRY addresses the brutal treatment of the Aboriginal tribes and how they continue to remain outcasts in contemporary Australia. Pilger makes the point that Australians need to make peace with their sordid past in order to move forward as a mature and multiethnic country. Asian immigrants have had a tough time integrating themselves into white Australian society. Pilger speaks not as an Australian who wishes to take cheap shots at his country, but as a frustrated patriot who strongly believes that his country can do better. Australia has had a reputation as a fun-loving land where everyone can be a pioneer and make it to the top without interference. In the first part of the twentieth century, Australia was indeed a land of opportunity, and government policies of the time opened doors for workers. The author sadly reports that by the 1980’s, Australia was rapidly becoming a more exclusive society as opposed to an inclusive one.

The most shocking revelation presented in A SECRET COUNTRY relates to the CIA’s possible involvement in the 1975 ousting of Australia’s Labor government. Pilger makes a convincing argument that at the very least there was infringement by the CIA of Australia’s sovereignty. The author believes that it is necessary for Australia to throw off the dominance that Great Britain and the United States have enjoyed, and become more integrated into the South Pacific and Far Eastern economies. A SECRET COUNTRY makes a powerful case for change in Australia. Pilger clearly wants his native country to strive for the higher moral ground, where all of its citizens can benefit from living in a democratic Australia.