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Byron Shire
April 23, 2021

Editorial: Polarised humbug

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Hans Lovejoy, editor

Every Australia Day, polarised humbug erupts from those who want to just wave a flag to celebrate their culture, and those who see that Aussie flag as a symbol of British genocide and invasion.

As a nation, are we coming any closer to resolving this touchy subject?

Those who hold an unchallenged world view of history are bound to feel threatened and indignant because it appears like an attack on their culture.

Stop ruining their snag ’n flag party!

But those who study a bit of history know that it wasn’t until 1935 that January 26 was termed Australia Day in all Australian states and territories.

So historically, the date doesn’t matter; what should is an attempt to reconcile with those who inhabited these lands well before colonisation. And besides, Australia’s federation on January 1, 1901, will always be a better date to celebrate.

The rhetoric from those who downplay the need to change the date of Australia Day appears fairly thin and lacks empathy.

For example in 2017, Australian Catholic University lecturer Anthony Dillon wrote for academic website The Conversation and asked, ‘How will protesting about the date and Australia Day help those Aboriginal people most in need?’

‘…I question the motives and sincerity of those claiming to be upset because of injustices committed in the past by what boils down to what one set of my ancestors did to another set of my ancestors’.

Why wouldn’t you want to address past injustices?

For a start, it could provide an opportunity for much more harmony than exists currently.

Dillon’s position appears to assume that as an individual, he has nothing to do with the actions of his ancestors.

It’s like the simplistic and unscientific climate change argument that there is no point in cutting carbon emissions because Australia doesn’t contribute much to global emissions (even though we do, per capita, and are the world’s largest exporter of coal).

As for helping those in need, there are a large pile of government reports and recommendations that point the way, yet continue to be ignored. Racial discrimination is yet to be removed from the Constitution (Sections 25 and 51).

The Uluru Statement from the Heart is another way forward, and remains inexplicably unsupported by the current government.

Continued government inaction on reconciliation should be highlighted on Australia Day because governments have done fuck all about it since invasion.

Address that, and then those wanting to keep the date might have some credibility.

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  1. I can’t understand why so many people don’t appear to see that 26th January is an inappropriate date for celebrating Australia – it narrows our country’s identity to such a recent event as the arrival of Europeans, and in that regard is quite confrontational and divisive. I’m not indigenous, my ancestors having settled in Australia in the mid to late 1800s, but I think it is essential modern-day Australia take a more truthful stance on the fact that white-man DID invade and occupy Australia and disenfranchise its inhabitants. We should choose another date – but imagine the uproar if it was 1st January and a Public Holiday was lost!

  2. Many of us have researched the ‘early beastly
    behaviour of the white conquest… seen photos
    of traumatic events in the local Queensland
    newspapers & know the Reserves were run
    by those who hadn’t a clue’… We can’t turn
    the clock back but we can not just say we are
    sorry & all’s fixed either. Empathy plus is a
    start but far from good enough. The Uluru
    statement’s overdue. Jan 1st or 26th? It
    doesn’t matter. Sort it out. Agree to agree.
    After all, we all know who lived here before
    we arrived.

    • Yes we do Stefanie!! The first people’s are the
      Custodians of the lands , the oldest living culture
      On the planet. Respect the culture 100%
      However we cant be responsible for the invasion
      Hundreds of years ago . What we do need is more
      Aboriginal representation in all levels of
      Government. Changing the date would in reality
      Mean no other date would be agreed upon .
      Therefore Australia day will cease to exist.
      We often talk about diversity, inclusion, accepting
      Other religious minorities and majority’s
      “For we are one for we are many ” is what Australia is .
      Multiculturalism have been such a success, a melting
      Pot of cultures from all corners of the globe !
      For example in Roman times it was exactly that .
      Everyone accepting of the Roman culture
      Thrown in to a big pot stirred up however
      Everyone came out as Roman .
      The sooner we have Aboriginal prime minister
      The better , our young country needs a true
      Indigenous first people’s leader .

  3. January 26th 1788, the day British monarchist desperately use to celebrate and attempt to keep Australia, British. The arrival of the first boat people, to the horrific penal colony of New South Wales in New Holland! How can any Nation use the establishment of a penal colony as a National day of any significance? It’s absolutely ridiculous! The commonwealth of Australia was proclaimed on the 1st January 1901, that is the only day that can be Australia Day!

  4. Tweed…… the wealth that is now is still
    part-common & with us. Will we ever
    shake it off? Even so, it’ll linger no
    matter what date we choose because
    the Crown is still The Crown. What
    once was stolen will be stolen again;
    all indigenous people know this. The
    ones just wanting to party-on can put
    365 + 1 extra day aside & do a wheel
    -barrow draw.

  5. No one who has read Bruce Pascoe’s eye-opening book Dark Emu could continue to entertain the idea that Australia was in any way not invaded, and its people who had an ancient and sophisticated culture dispossessed and had deliberate genocide inflicted upon them. To say that Australia day celebrates the day when Australia was ‘settled’ as I learned in highschool (which I can now see was complete fiction) is quaintly naive at best, and in light of current scholarship on the topic, is now inexcusably ignorant. As such, it is an inappropriate day to *celebrate* ‘the birth of the nation’ – which should properly be celebrated on another day.


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