I’ve never really got the point of Australia Day. I’ve never felt so much nationalistic pride that I want to put on my flag bikini and listen to some shit middle-of-the-road Aussie music while drinking a beer chanting ‘Aussie Aussie Aussie’. Perhaps we could change the call and response from Oi Oi Oi to Sorry Sorry Sorry.
Australia Day always feels like Bogan Day. I’d be happy with a public holiday for that. At least it’s honest and isn’t attempting to be inclusive. As a white woman who lives with white-woman privilege I don’t feel invested in Australia Day. My friends in Bondi tell me they don’t go out. It’s dangerous. People get violent. They get violent because Australia Day is basically a nationwide outdoor binge-drinking session followed by a few blues.
I love my country, but I love it so much I don’t want to drop beer cans and ciggie butts all over it. I love my country so I want to do something useful to protect it, such as Stopping Adani and saving our reef. I love my country so I want to make it a better and fairer place for all. I don’t wake up on 26 January desperate to dance naked in thongs while eating a sausage sanga to commemorate Captain Cook rocking up uninvited at Sydney Cove. I’ve never felt like putting a flag on my aerial and driving around yelling abuse at migrants and anyone else who isn’t some small-eyed whitey because the English government at the time decided to send their unwanted out here. I find it weird that we celebrate what is ostensibly a break and enter. Australia Day really is a celebration for the English. It was a successful land grab by their empire. You wouldn’t get away with the whole ‘there was no-one home’ routine these days. We’ve got Facebook. And international law. You can’t just rock up to other people’s countries and claim it with your silly piece of fabric on a stick. It was their version of Manus Island. So why are we celebrating that?
Australia was somewhere else to deal with a social problem the English weren’t prepared to face in their own country. Ironically we celebrate the English stealing a country to send their poorest and most disenfranchised people. The descendants of the poorest and the most disenfranchised are often those celebrating the hardest. I don’t get it.
Right now there’s a campaign to move the date. I say let’s not just move the date, let’s just lose the date. Let’s just can the whole thing. Australia Day is boring. It’s pointless and it’s embarrassing. We haven’t got that much to celebrate. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not against public holidays, but commemorating invasion and the generations of trauma inflicted on Indigenous peoples of this country with a barbecue? That’s just cruel. If someone rocked up at my place and stole my home and then continued to rub it in every year with a giant ‘how good is my new house’ street party I’d be pissed off.
Sure, Australia Day is supposed to be about different stuff now – celebrating who we are as Australians today. Celebrating ‘diversity’. That’s a joke. If I were ‘diverse’ I would stay inside and lock the doors. Drunk Aussies on Aussie Day have a history of beating up Diverse Australians. And before you start bleating on about our Freedom and being the lucky country, let’s have a good hard look at what’s behind that flimsy curtain of nationalistic fervour. Oh, we’ve destroyed one of the world’s natural wonders – the Barrier Reef – with coal mining and climate change. Oops. Quick, cover it up with a flag and drink a beer on it. There are nearly two women dying at the hands of their partners every week. Shit, we need more flags. And more beer. That’s nearly 100 bodies a year to cover. We abandon the world’s most vulnerable citizens – pushing them into offshore detention centres where we don’t have to see them. More flags to cover the shame and we’re going to have to buy a pub. And then there are our own Indigenous nations living in third-world poverty… Aussie Ausssie Aussie? I don’t feel particularly much like getting out the party hooters.
Can you tell me what exactly we are celebrating here? Because I, for one, don’t get it.