Australia Day has come and gone for another year, once more drawing outrage and dissent. Most Australians – if the polls are anything to go by – are happy to retain January 26 as our national day, though without a burning passion. I can’t blame them, a national day celebrating a bunch of ships reaching shore is pretty lame in my book.
It’s awfully contentious, too. On Australia Day there were marches to celebrate the day, and marches to condemn it. Much of the language on the extreme ends of the conversation has been way over the top, and oftentimes completely offensive. In this day and age, it seems impossible to have a reasoned, civilised debate about important issues such as this. Too often, vitriolic nonsense is offered in place of intelligent analysis.
I don’t buy into the violent rhetoric about invasion day, but I’m sympathetic to the genuine feelings of those who feel excluded by a national day that basically celebrates white settlement – and at the expense of the indigenous people. But while I accept there were many unforgivable atrocities committed against the indigenous people I cannot accept that white settlement has been the pure evil that so many paint it as. Regardless, I think the day must be changed, and inevitably will. Our national day should embrace all Australians. It should be a unifying event and cause for celebration no matter your heritage. Clearly that’s not the case with Australia Day in its present form, and never will be.
I offer no alternative. For me, Anzac day has always felt the more meaningful day in Australian history, but I would hope our national day becomes the anniversary of us becoming a true republic (and if not, then it should commemorate the day we sign a treaty with the first peoples).
Come next year I expect the clamour to be louder. I hope it to be more intelligent, but hold little hope of that. Discourse all over the world has deteriorated terribly. The stupidity of it is that so often it’s counter-productive. There are many Australians happy to be swayed by the argument to change the date, but the case is not advanced one whit – and probably suffers – when one of the loudest voices proclaiming for it cries to the gathered crowd that she hopes Australia burns to the ground. Way to get the moderate undecideds offside.
That’s the standard of leadership all over these days. Not just puerile, but plain dumb too.
Me, I base my decision on facts and analysis. That tells me it’s time to make a change.