Yesterday was our third Australia Day. In an effort to ‘integrate’ with the local community, we made the obligatory trip to our local (packed) beach armed with eskies of snags, lamingtons and VBs. We blended in with our fellow Aussies by moaning endlessly about the mortgage, the escalating school fees and Saturday’s 42C temperatures. Once the rain descended, we headed back home to watch the cricket from Adelaide and finished off the slab of VBs.
Many of our fellow beach-goers were dressed in yellow and green or had Australian flags tattooed onto their faces. A number of the cars and houses were flying Australian flags. It was a display of quiet patriotism that you do not encounter in England. There are no grand ceremonies, no speeches from self-important politicians, no state processions and no organised silences where one is forced to remember someone or something. Just boardies, thongs, snags, slabs, stingers, sand and sea. We rather like Australia Day.
Australian of the Year, Mick Dodson, clearly does not.
As an English patriot, i am very proud of my tiny island nation. I am proud of its history, its achievements, its advancement of liberty and its consistent ability to punch above its weight. The establishment of a great country such as Australia is something we Brits are especially proud of and this little piece of history is (still) widely taught in our schools. Governor Arthur Philip and his band of crims and officers can lay claim to the title of some of our greatest exports.
However whilst i have no time for his welfarist policies, i do have some sympathy for Mr. Dodson. Opting for the landing of the first British fleet as your National Day of celebration does seem an odd choice. Whilst the achievements of Governors Philip and Macquarie should indeed be celebrated, the impact on the existing population was clearly not so wonderful.
I understand the day is now referred to as ‘Invasion Day’ in some quarters. This is plainly inaccurate but perhaps ‘Colonisation Day’ would be more accurate.
A poll for the SMH showed that a third of its readers would like to see the date changed. Given its conservative readership, the national figure is probably even higher.
I can’t help but agree. There has to be a better day for this nation to unite under the Australian flag.