..for seriously considering the argument that Australia might be better served by changing the date that we celebrate Australia Day. As detailed in this news article 26th of January commemorates the landing of the First Fleet in Sydney and subsequent settlement of NSW. Furthermore, Australia did not even exist as a country until January 1, 1901 when Federation occurred. Prior to this time Australia was a series of separate colonies. This is quite apart from the fact that to the Aboriginals the 26th of January represents ‘Invasion Day’. Upon reading the comments thread connected to the article it became apparent that any one who dares to consider the argument for changing the date is ‘Un-Australia’. So although giving people a ‘fair go’ is consider to be the ultimate Australian quality, this only applies to those that don’t challenge the status quo.
To be fair, some on the comments thread, were for the idea:
I, for one, think that’s a bloody good idea, and I don’t think that Indigenous Aussies can find anything celebrate about Jan 26, so let’s find a better date to celebrate as Australia Day. It’s a celebration, not a test, of “Australianness”.
While many reacted with a visceral anger at the very suggestion:
Just a quick suggestion, Time [sic] for you, your apologist mates and those that just don’t qant [sic] to get it. It’s 2009, time to build a ladder and get over it. Australia Day is Australia Day. Join in or shut up. Invasion day is a myth brought about by the guilt industry of the last century. Progress to the 21st century. We have more important things to deal with.
And (among other lovely comments):
What a lot of garbage, is “The Professor” now saying that each State and Territory should celebrate on a different day because the arrival of the British in Eastern Australia on January 26 “is not relevant to the Territorians”. The British did not land in WA or SA or QLD on this Day, but they did commence to establish a Great Country on that day and anyone who is proud enough to call themselves AUSTRALIAN should be proud enough to celebrate on January 26.
Like migrants, the indegenious [sic] take the benefits provided to Australians, if they don’t want to be Australian, give up the benefits.
(Benefits such as poverty and discrimination ‘cos we’ve given them so much haven’t we?) Speaking of indigenous Australians Mick Dodson has been named Australian of the Year (in a gesture that seems to indicate that the Rudd govt intends to act upon the rhetoric expressed in the ‘Sorry Day’ speech. This seems to be a real out reach to the Aboriginal people and an action that I could not imagine the Howard govt making ever. Hopefully we’ll be seeing more concrete actions in this area). Professor Mick Dodson had to consider whether he wanted to accept the award, given what Australia Day means to his people.
But he says accepting the award will help him advocate for human rights in Australia.
“It’s a humbling thing, but I too share the concerns of my Indigenous brother and sisters about the date, and I talked long and hard with my family about this and we decided it was in the best interests that I accept the nomination,” he said.
Professor Dodson says he hopes to build Australians’ understanding of what it means to protect the rights and human dignity of all Australians.
The way I think that it could be construed is that if Australia Day is not a celebration of the specific events of Jan 26 1788, then why not have it on another day? 26th of January has long been Australia Day, but it is only since 1988 that it has been a permanent public holiday. Prior to that the actual holiday was moveable, like Easter, and always occurred on the last weekend in January – thus there was always an Australia Day long weekend even when 26th (Australia Day) occurred no where near the weekend.
I am going to be honest, by standard measure it could be argued that I really am ‘Un-Australian’. I won’t be celebrating tomorrow by drinking beers and enjoying a day off (a re-occurring motif in the aforementioned comments thread). I wish that I was celebrating like this: as it looks like fun, but in reality I’ll probably do some studying, maybe some gardening and a bit of housework.
Is it just me or does anyone else find the increasing ubiquity of the symbol of the southern cross (tattoos, stickers on cars) and the aussie flag a little troubling? Anyhow if you want to know how Australian you are, you can always take the Facebook test.
So how are you spending Australia Day?
Update: Bonus Australia Day Links
Australia Day: “Speak English!” @ Hoyden About Town
Happy Australia Day @ Cafe Grendel
Invasion Day @ the-paris-site