Australia Day marks the arrival of the First Fleet in January 1788, commanded by Captain Arthur Phillip. He rowed ashore at Sydney Cove and raised the Union Jack to proclaim British sovereignty.
Yep, the day that everyone is so hell bent on defending as Australia Day marks British Rule. It should be called ‘Empire Day’. If you want to celebrate the conquest of an Empire, 26 January is the date, but not if you want to celebrate the country we call Australia, its history and diversity. It’s not just an offensive date to Indigenous people, it’s offensive to ALL Australians. It’s the wrong fucking date. I don’t celebrate my birthday on the date my mother lost her virginity.
Why are we celebrating the arrival of the First Fleet? Most of our ancestors were in chains. Celebrating that day is a bit like celebrating refugees arriving at Manus Island. Claiming a country that other people were already living on and had for over 60,000 years as ‘British’ doesn’t seem very Australian. If anything, it commemorates that we were complicit in Grand Theft Australia – something Thomas Keneally details in his book A Commonwealth of Thieves.
Our nation was settled by the English who incarcerated people for stealing a loaf of bread – but then turned around and stole an entire continent, in front of the people they’d locked up and removed from their lives and families for petty theft.
January 26 marks a day of British conquest. They actually arrived in Botany Bay on 24 January and waited on the boat because they were too scared to get off. They sat quivering on the deck terrified of what to them was an inhospitable, savage country, wondering just where one day they should pop their stinking toxic oil refinery.
Ironically we celebrate Australia Day on the date they found NSW. There was no such thing as Australia back then. January 26 is significant to the English, not I would think to anyone who considers themselves ‘Australian’. I won’t celebrate that.
The transportation of convicts and the use of them as slave labour, the dispossession of the Indigenous – that is how European settlement happened in this country. That’s what anchors 26 January. Cruelty, exploitation and cultural annihilation.
Americans don’t celebrate their national day marking British occupation – they mark when they got rid of them. July 4 is Independence Day, when Americans celebrate the time during the American Revolutionary War when 13 colonies of the kingdom of Great Britain voted to declare themselves independent from the crown, forming the USA. Then two days after that on 4 July the Declaration of Independence was signed. That’s the right day to celebrate your ‘country hood’.
Unfortunately we were too lazy or pissweak to have a revolution to get rid of the British. We politely waited for permission for self-governance. ‘Please, Sir? If it is okay with you, Sir?’ I guess that’s why we’ve never adopted that day as ours – because nothing ‘really’ happened. Nothing as thrilling as whacking a flag in a cove and discovering the best real estate in the damn country.
It was just a bunch of dudes signing a decree somewhere in Westminster. But that is the day we became an independent nation. When we became the Australia that we live in today – our convict-settled, multicultural, stolen country. Australia Day should be when we recognise our independence when we had the autonomy to start pulling the threads together. Federation Day happened on 1 January 1901. The British parliament passed legislation allowing the six Australian colonies to govern in their own right as part of the Commonwealth of Australia. Why isn’t that Australia Day? I guess they should have been thinking about public holidays when that important document was signed.
Typical of the English to fuck that up for us too! What were they doing even working on New Years day? I can just imagine, ‘Jolly Good, if they want independence they can bloody well have it on the most inconvenient day of the year’.
January 1 ALREADY is a public holiday. And who wants to get ‘Australian’ of the Year nominations sorted over the Xmas period? What if the Aussie flags don’t arrive from China in time? Will there be enough beer? Will people’s livers cope with the extra load?
Australia Day should be 1 January. Or when we become a republic. Or just another day. Considering the only cultural activities we’re celebrating are thong throwing and pie eating it’s a very small but important change in our nation’s story for Indigenous Australians.
It’s not too late to Change the Date and get it right. For every Australian.