Wednesday, 27 January 2016


The Trouble With Australia Day

I've had a week of slothfulness, attempting to recover from a virus. At first I tried exercising despite it, but decided - with a bit of a prod from Di and the doctor - that I really needed to take it easy if I wanted to get better. (To be fair, that does seem to be working.) This made for a rather quiet Australia Day but has allowed me time for some total relaxation and reflection.

A few days ago I came across the most recent Intelligence Squared debate, which put the proposition that "Racism is Destroying the Australian Dream". (I hadn't encountered this forum before; past debates can be accessed here. Worth a look if you've got the time and patience.)

While the "debate was not actually run according to formal debating rules as such, I found it well worthwhile, with Jack Thompson and Stan Grant especially making a lot of sense.  If you've got 50 minutes or so to spend here's a link to the full show, including comments and questions  ...

If you don't have time for that, please try at least to find eight minutes to listen to Stan Grant's powerful, eloquent and impassioned speech ...

 Australia Day currently falls on the 26th of January, which is the day that Arthur Philip sailed his fleet into Port Jackson and established the first white settlement in Australia. I use the phrase "currently falls on" because the tradition of designating the 26th of January as Australia Day is only relatively recent. (If you don't believe me, go to the Australia Day website.) Martin Flanagan, one of my favourite journalists with The Age newspaper (and an ex-Tasmanian) recently wrote this short but thought-provoking article about "The Trouble with Australia Day".

My agenda is probably fairly obvious: should Australia Day be changed to another day? I believe so. Aborigine communities across the country strongly believe that is should, and that celebrating this day is divisive and insulting to them. I agree. With vigour. Moving our national day to another date would at the very least acknowledge that Indigenous Australians were here before the rest of us; more than that it would also tell all other ethnic groups that it is not only our British history that matters. (We'd also end up with a different national day than what India has.)

Flagging Changes

So that's it re Australia Day. But wait! There's more! At least one free steak knife!
It looks like New Zealand is going to shake of the confusion and cultural cringe factor associated with having a national flag that is founded on that of another country, i.e. the so-called United Kingdom  (although they are, perhaps, more united that the even more so-called United States).
Good for them, I say. And, hey, we might even be able to manage this step of self-identity ourselves someday soon. According to a recent survey,  sixty-four percent of Australians favour changing the flag. The most popular amongst a range of choices presented to survey respondents was a flag called the "Southern Horizon", which looks like this ...

"The Southern Horizon"
Actually, I quite like that. Yes. I could happily live with that as our new Aussie flag. My all time favourite, based mostly on its looks but also its historical connotations, is the Eureka flag ...

... but unfortunately it is too tainted with unionism and rebellion against authority - on both sides of the political spectrum - to ever be acceptable as a national symbol.

So, the Southern Horizon then? Sure! Let's get it done! 

And hey, if you feel like it, I'd appreciate it if you'd take the little poll I've inserted below. Thanks!