They tend to be hostile to local patriotism ... because they regard it as backward looking and conforming, in the sense that they see demands made in its name as restricting individual or ethnic community autonomy.
To them, Australia is defined in proceduralist rather than patriotic terms. They tend to see the Australian nation as a framework, providing the scaffolding within which a law abiding, democratic and tolerant society can function.
Bob Hawke - a well known advocate of this position - put it as follows: "An Australian is someone who chooses to live here, obey the law and pays taxes". There is obviously a vast difference between this procedural view of Australia on the one hand and the patriotic view on the other. ["Social Cohesion and National Security", The Independent Australian, No.14 Summer 2007/08]
So according to our former Prime Minister being an Australian doesn't amount to much. It simply involves a choice of residence, obeying laws and paying taxes. To be Australian is strikingly empty and meaningless as Hawke defines it.
Update: At about the same time I was writing this post, another former PM, Paul Keating, was writing a letter of complaint to The Australian. He made this criticism of journalist Janet Albrechtsen:
Albrechtsen’s beef is with that group which forms the cosmopolitan core of the country. The Oxford dictionary describes cosmopolitan as of or from or knowing many parts of the world; free from national limitations or prejudices. In other words, people of the world, unprejudicial of others, appreciating cultural differences and attitudes. In general, being tolerant, understanding and respectful of other people, including their origins and beliefs.
These are the people Albrechtsen and her bigot mates brand as elites. People not of the mono-culture; of the old Australia; of the Howard world of Sunday schools and scout jamborees and Menzian regard. The people who knew their place ...
Albrechtsen’s objection is to cosmopolitan Australia ...
Will someone at The Australian take this loony tune off its pages? ...
If not for the rest of us, perhaps for the paper’s own sake, will someone summon the courage to give her the pink slip?
What is striking about Keating's letter is how openly he identifies as a cosmopolitan and how negatively he characterises the patriotic view as a "limitation", as a leftover from "old Australia", and as conformist ("knew their place").
Keating is so far removed from a patriotic view that he thinks Albrechtsen should be sacked for criticising cosmopolitans like himself. He believes that people like himself represent the "cosmopolitan core" of the country.
Update 2: The post has been picked up at a forum. Someone calling himself The Polemicist has written this response to Hawke:
"An Australian is someone who chooses to live here, obey the law and pays taxes." - Bob Hawke
And that's it. According to Hawke, Australians have no distinct ethnic or cultural identity. In fact, they have absolutely nothing to define them as a people - no history, traditions, ancestors, customs or heroes. To be an 'Australian' is not to belong to a distinct national community; it simply means you live here and pay tax.
In short, it seems that Hawke is saying that 'Australians' don't really exist in any meaningful sense.