To borrow from the title of Alan Seymour’s play “The One Day of The Year” is perhaps not entirely appropriate when it comes to a discussion of Australia Day, but the similarities between the 1958 era description of the behaviour of veterans on Anzac Day and the blue, white and red clad ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussies’ of today are manifold.
Perhaps the biggest heifers of all sacred cows in Australia are these two public holidays, especially set aside by the Australian government in which to celebrate the concept of nationhood, something we who live in Australia are supposed to accept without question. We, as Australians are meant to be out there, in the steaming hot sun, throwing another lamb chop on the barbie and drinking ourselves into senseless stupors, after we play our obligatory game of cricket for the day. And we are meant to accept this like we have accepted, without question, the governments handling of the irrigators in the Murray-Darling Basin.
We, as Australian citizens are obliged to feel overwhelmed with pride at the raising of the Australian flag… which in case you may not have noticed, still carries the symbols of the English colonisation of the continent… the singing of the anthem and accept, again without question, that we are a rich and virtuous country that treats all equally.
What a load of bullshit, to use a great ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie’ phrase.
Australia Day has become a day, where every unthinking, self-centred cretin in this country gets to wave a flag, get drunk and refer to everyone else on the continent that has a differing opinion to their own as “Un Australian”….My favourite of all “Howardism’s”, and perhaps his only real contribution to the lexicon of this country.
For me, as a white, middle class, ‘Sheila’ Australia Day is as meaningless as a glass of Alka Seltzer that has lost its fizz.
For Aboriginal people, however, it will always represent the day that the ‘Gubba’s’, ‘Migaloos’ ‘Kardya’ washed up on the beach, trampled all over their paradise and basically drained it of its water, killed off all of its animals, infested the place with its weeds and brutally destroyed a multicultural, sane and ethical way of life so a few of the Norman’s, Joyce’s, and Littleproud’s could manage to grow, fat, rich, redfaced and bellicose in their reign over the desert they created.
I have little pride in that part, thats for sure.
Years ago, I had the great honour of working with a visionary writer in the form of Donald Horne. He had no illusions about the Howard led restyling of Australian nationalism as yet another way to appease the suburban bound, weekend warriors whose values were vague echo’s of the ideal of the “Man From Snowy River” legend.
Australia Day only came into being as a public holiday in 1994, concurrent with the rise of John Howard and the vision of another day for those weekend warriors to see this continent out of the back of a foreign-built petrol guzzling, mechanised lethal weapon.
Australian’s DO NOT live in a country where “wealth for toil” and a “fair go” and “She’ll be right mate” continue to exist. The cattle barons and Liberal and National Party politicians, just like their English forbears, have diversified into precious metals and cotton and the weekend warriors are so mortgage stressed their 4WD chariots remain in the garage of a weekend.
So why is Australia Day significant to anyone? It only stands for a public holiday that no-one really pays any attention to, except the people who buy Australian flags as footwear.
And if this particular day causes offence to any part of the population why is it such a struggle to change the day? If we were grown up and really our own ideal of what Australians are then why not? There is a lot NOT to love about Australia Day.
Yet the people who want it to stay in place, want nothing more than to re-assure themselves that by no means will the Sovereign Aboriginal Owners of Australia be given any of the rights that are accorded to the rest of the population. If they were to do that it would be recognising that the occupation of Australia by the British Crown on the basis that no-one lived here, is not only actually illegal, but a big fat lie. And, you see, if the government changes the date they will NOT be able to justify such monumental environmental tragedies as the Murray-Darling basin which for 64, 769 years had been a fine place to live and raise your family.
That is of course until Phillip showed up with a bunch of convicts and the 26th January became Australia Day.
I am proud to call myself UnAustralian. Change the Date.
Todays photo is of the Snowy River, which rises at the foot of Kunama. Because of the work of Ngarigo man, Uncle Angel John Gallard and the Snowy River Alliance it is still alive. Not so the Darling River because there is no fighting cotton farmers.