Australian Wisdom

All cultures have their unique perspective and Australia is no exception.

While humans all share the same gene pool there are many different human meme pools and many different human cultures.

Australia’s unique history and isolation has sometimes been a source of fascination for others around the world. Soviet Russia’s Vladimir Lenin once observed: “What sort of peculiar capitalist country is this in which the workers’ representatives predominate in the upper house….and yet the capitalist system is in no danger?”


Those Australians who have been clever enough and lucky enough to survive 50 years or more (400,000+ hours) of life have learned a thing or two. Here are some examples of their Grey Hat Thinking … from Australians, old and older:


Kerry Packer – billionaire: Never complain, never explain.

Australian proverb: The bigger the hat, the smaller the property.

Professor Elizabeth Blackburn – Nobel Laureate: I got it for curiosity.

General D.M. Mueller: As a leader you must celebrate life, you must celebrate success and paradoxically, you must celebrate heroic failures.

Baron May of Oxford – President of The Royal Society:  The existence of a supernatural being in the form of a god who can dish out punishment in the afterlife may have been an important force in the past that helped to keep societies together as co-operative entities – but not so in the future.

Henry Lawson – poet: I’ve never seen anyone rehabilitated by punishment.

Jack Lang – Labor premier: Always back the horse named self-interest, son. It’ll be the only one trying.

Ann Daniel – Emeritus Professor of Sociology: Be gentle, become creative.

Douglas Mawson – scientist and polar survivor: It’s dead easy to die; it’s the keeping on living that’s hard.

Dame Nellie Melba – opera singer: The first rule in opera is the first rule in life: see to everything yourself.

General Sir John Monash – WW I military strategist: Not lip service, nor obsequious homage to superiors, nor servile observance of forms and customs … the Australian army is proof that individualism is the best and not the worst foundation upon which to build up collective discipline.

Australian Aboriginal saying: May as well be here we are as where we are.

Danielle Wood – Author:  My grandfather, the remarkable man who inspired my first novel, The Alphabet of Light and Dark, once said to me: “There’s no such thing as biting off more than you can chew–you just take a big bite, and then chew like buggary”.

Rt Hon Bob Hawke - Prime Minister: Do you know why I have credibility? Because I don’t exude morality.

Ian Kiernan – organiser of Clean up Australia Day: Ordinary people need to lead and not sit there and think that governments are going to spoon feed them.

Saint Mary McKillop: Never see a need without doing something about it.

Harry (Breaker) Morant - executed soldier and poet: Shoot straight you bastards. Don’t make a mess of it.

Joan Kirner - Labor premier: There is no such thing as being non-political. Just by making a decision to stay out of politics you are making the decision to allow others to shape politics and exert power over you.

Convict saying: The law locks up the man who steals the goose from the common, but leaves the greater criminal loose who steals the common from the goose.

Ned Kelly – bushranger: If my lips teach the public that men are made mad by bad treatment, and if the police are taught that they may exasperate to madness men they persecute and ill treat, my life will not be entirely thrown away.

Errol Flynn – Hollywood star: Flynn is not always in.

Sandra Cabot – physician and author: Real women don’t have flushes, they have power surges.

Hon Arthur Calwell – politician: It is better to be defeated on principle than to win on lies.

Oenone Wood – Champion cyclist: As a child my mum told me I could do anything. I believed her.

Australian observation: If the guy next to you is swearing like a wharfie he’s probably a billionaire. Or, just conceivably, a wharfie.

Australian observation: There is nothing more Australian than spending time in somebody else’s country.

Anon: It may be that your sole purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others.

Dame Edna Everage: Never be afraid to laugh at yourself, after all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century.

Rt Hon Sir Robert Menzies – Prime Minister: A man may be a tough, concentrated, successful money-maker and never contribute to his country anything more than a horrible example.

Tom Dystra – Aboriginal man: We cultivated our land, but in a way different from the white man. We endeavoured to live with the land; they seemed to live off it.

Phillip Adams – journalist: The most intense hatreds are not between political parties but within them.

Australian Aboriginal proverb: Those who lose dreaming are lost.

Australian proverb: Its like the axe that’s had two new blades and three new handles but otherwise is just as it was when grandfather bought it.

Professor Geoffrey Blainey – historian: Nationalism is both a vital medicine and a dangerous drug.

Sir Don Bradman – cricket player and Captain of Australia: When you play test cricket, you don’t give the Englishmen an inch. Play it tough, all the way. Grind them into the dust.

Janet Holmes à Court - CEO: The company was quite hierarchical. I often think it was like a pyramid with Robert (husband Robert Holmes à Court) at the top and lots of us paying homage to him. I try to turn the pyramid upside down so that I’m at the bottom and bubbling away and encouraging people and energising them so that they are all empowered so that they can do what they need to do, now that’s the dream.

Rt Hon Julia Gillard – Prime Minister of Australia: The concept of social inclusion in essence means replacing a welfarist approach to helping the underprivileged with one of investing in them and their communities to bring them into the mainstream market economy. It’s a modern and fresh approach that views everyone as a potential wealth creator and invests in their human capital.


DFQ: What is your favourite example of Grey Hat Thinking?
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5 thoughts on “Australian Grey Hat Thinking

  1. Happy New Year Michael !
    I do like the comments of Julia Gillard, the new lady Prime Minister of Australia .
    By taking an inclusive approach regarding the thinking ability of each individual, and seeing them as capable of making his or her own unique contribution to the market economy……. she is MAXIMISING the enablement of every single thinking person in Australia to be part of INNOVATION and evolutionary change of a positive nature .
    In my view, this is a brilliant idea , which values each person and whatever they can do , for the good of all .
    It shows real leadership in THINKING , to make a statement like this.
    What is IMPORTANT, NOW , is the WAY people take IMMEDIATE ACTION ………if the read empowerment and encouragement in what she says.

  2. the current view of the situation,will never equal the better view of the situation.

    START [something]DO [anything]NOTICE [happenings] THINK [start again]10X better.

    Wisdom and Experiance, thats gathered under my GREY CAP 2011