There are so many of us that think January 26th is a dreadful choice for a national celebration of nationhood, one wonders why a change of date struggles to gain more traction.
Why do we punish ourselves so? Choosing to celebrate the birth of our nation on a day that commemorates the arrival of the first fleet from England, shows just how small-minded we are.
Does any other nation celebrate its nationhood on the date that marked its colonisation? It’s not as if there weren’t any other appropriate days upon which to mark this occasion, not the least of which is January 1st, symbolically the date we actually became a nation.
But to use a date when only a part of the country became an English colony….when the majority of the population in situ at the time, had already been here for thousands of years, seems to defy logic.
If logic had anything to do with it, we should be considering May 9th, which marks the opening of the first Parliament in Melbourne in 1901. It is the date the new Parliament House was opened in Canberra in 1925 and the date the second Parliament House was opened in 1988. How’s that for a trifecta?
Every year, as this embarrassing time draws near, out come the cries of distress on one side and the staunch reinforcement on the other. It’s so juvenile, no wonder so much of the country has switched off on both the conversation and the celebration.
I remember when it used only to be acknowledged as a long weekend at the end of January regardless of what day of the week it actually fell. No one thought anything of it. No one cared. It was a non-event. We just wanted the long weekend.
“The tradition of having Australia Day as a national holiday on 26 January is a recent one. Not until 1935 did all the Australian states and territories use that name to mark that date. Not until 1994 did they begin to celebrate Australia Day consistently as a public holiday on that date.”
What a tragedy! In 1994, just 25 years ago we decided to recognise the day, ON THE DAY. What happened? Instead of it being a very convenient long weekend that marked the end of the summer holidays, the last day before everyone went back to work, which was really the only thing on anyone’s mind, each state government agreed to make it a formal affair. Who asked them to do that?
That was the time we should have had a real conversation about choosing a more appropriate date. What were those bogans thinking? Where was the movement for change?
Now, as matters stand on the day, we all pretend our patriotic spirit extends to having a wonderful time on a day we used to ignore, a day we now have barbecues and parties, get drunk and a new generation of bogans drape that equally controversial flag around their shoulders.
So here we are. Another year will come and go, one will reflect on how dumb it all was and how the banality of it all was overtaken by the controversy it generated. Little wonder our first nations’ Australians look upon us and shake their heads in bewilderment.
Rather than call it Australia Day, we should rename it ‘idiots’ day,’ or ‘bogans’ day’ to commemorate the stupid thing those bogan state representatives agreed to in 1994.
To add insult to injury, this year we have our fearless, feckless prime minister entering the fray, flexing his muscles and warning all local councils to stop fooling around, stop wearing shorts and thongs and make things more formal.
Bonjour le bruit!
For me, January 1st is the day. Forget that half the country is recovering from a hangover. Just keep the party going for another 24 hours.
Australia, we can do better.
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