Australia, you are standing in it

flag_index_250 Last year I said:

    My brother and his wife hosted a street party where people hailed recently from seven different overseas countries. Yesterday one of my wife’s clients said she knew Aborigines who would just close their doors and cry.

And the TV news reported us “playing and protesting”. Nothing has changed this year, but I’m sure eventually it will. Chris Graham, the indigenous editor of New Matilda, asks the simple question:

    If your ancestors were dispossessed, slaughtered and had their land and their children stolen, would you celebrate the date on which that all began?

This is his view of the flag:

He says that Rudd promised to change the date as part of the ALP’s election platform in 2007. He then reneged and lied, saying that the promise was never made, whereas a click of the mouse showed that it was. (Actually, I couldn’t get the link to work.)

The Guardian editorialises that the date must change. They point out that Lowitja O’Donoghue pleaded for a date change when she was honoured in 1984, as did Mick Dodson after accepting his Australian of the Year award in 2009.

Noel Pearson says we should change our understanding of exactly what we are celebrating on 26 January.

    He sees three defining moments in Australia’s history: “Firstly, 53,000-plus years ago, when the first Australians crossed the Torres Strait land bridge to this continent; secondly, the landing of the first fleet in 1788; thirdly, the abolition of the White Australia policy between 1973 and 1975.”

    “I believe the celebration of Australia Day will always be equivocal as long as it is about only one of these three parts,” he said at the National Press Club last year. “If we brought these three parts of the nation together and the day defining Australia spoke to these three parts then less offence and hurt would attach to 26 January. It can’t just be about what was destroyed. It must also be about what we have built.”

Anthony Dillon, Lecturer in Faculty of Health Sciences of Australian Catholic University, has a disappointing, I think, contrary view, that we should forget what started it all and “celebrate the achievements of our Aboriginal brothers and sisters, and the successes achieved together.”

I think continuing as we are is untenable, and eventually we’ll change. We do want the extra holiday, however. It’s pointless celebrating January 1 to signify federation, as some are suggesting, as we are all celebrating already. Let’s forget about January 26 as a specific day, and just make it the last Monday in January, to mark when the nation seriously gets down to business. That would solve the problem of a mucked up Friday, as we will have this year. I booked my ute in for a service on Friday, and the bloke rang today to say it was pointless opening his workshop, because he couldn’t rely on parts and stuff.

For Australian of the Year they’ve made a ‘safer’ pick, and a good one in Emeritus Professor Alan Mackay-Sim whose work in stem cell research has led to groundbreaking advances in the treatment of spinal cord injuries.

Here are the nominees.

Last year I said:

    we need to do at least three things before we become a proper grown-up country. We need to become a republic, we need to get rid of our ridiculous flag featuring the flag of our colonial masters, and we need to recognise original Australians in the constitution.

To that I’d add a treaty, and change the date of Australia Day to the last Monday in January.

I still think it’s not a bad place to be, unless you are being hassled and persecuted by the Government.

55 thoughts on “Australia, you are standing in it”

  1. If your ancestors were dispossessed, slaughtered and had their land and their children stolen, would you celebrate the date on which that all began?

    Well, some of my ancestors were dispossessed, slaughtered and had their land stolen. It was done by some of my other ancestors.
    Same as Adam Goodes.

    Happy Australia Day to all.

  2. My ancestors were encouraged to come in and occupy land because it was ‘vacant’ the previous occupiers having been removed.

    But it’s not about you, Jumpy.

  3. Yes, John, he used words even worse than that, which mercifully I’ve forgotten.

    Pauline Hanson called them “whingers”.

  4. I’d never thought about it until it came up at brunch. Moving the day, great idea. Last Monday in January, fine.

    Frankly at my weight I don’t need another reason to over eat.

    Coming back down the hill to the factory after a huge brunch I pulled into the RBT, they requested I agreed, its always on Old Bathurst Road for some reason. The lady cop came over and said “breath into the bag, please”. I said holding my wrists out the window, “I’m done.” “You may as well arrest me straight away”. Why she said, have you had too much?” “God, yes. If that is testing for calories, I’m going away for a long time. RBT, Random Bulge Testing? That is what you are doing, right?”. “Just stick it in your mouth she said”. “That is my weakness, I lamented”. They let me off with a warning for being an idiot.

  5. Brian

    My ancestors were encouraged to come in and occupy land because it was ‘vacant’ the previous occupiers having been removed.

    You have the option of giving the land you live on back to the local Tribe if you wish.
    Will you ?

  6. Bilbo

    Is that what it stands for?
    I’d best be careful.

    Some disgraceful Victorian, a young lad I suppose, had a very official looking circular sticker on his windshield. On close inspection, it turned out he worked as a

    Random Breast Tester.

  7. Over at Loon Pond GrueBleen makes a good case for Australia Day being March 3rd, the day in 1986 when Australia actually became an independent nation (as opposed to a self-governing Dominion).

  8. Here’s the full Barnaby:

    Barnaby Joyce has called people pushing for Australia Day’s date to change, ‘miserable, gutted people’.

    Mr Joyce told Sydney radio station 2GB he gets “sick of these people who every time, every time there’s something on, they just want to make you feel guilty”.

    “They don’t like Christmas, they don’t like Australia Day, they’re just miserable gutted people and I wish they would crawl under a rock and hide for a little bit,” the Nationals leader said, calling on people to stop “weeping and gnashing your teeth about me about the terrible evils we have done”.

    “This is Australia Day and if you don’t like it, I don’t know mate, go to work, do something else.”

    Joyce is a disgrace and unfit to hold public office.

  9. Jumpy, please take a jump.

    I’m talking about the Prussian Germans, in my case Silesian, and my great grandmother a Pole, who were encouraged to settle in the Barossa Valley in the 1840s.

    When you say your

    ancestors were dispossessed, slaughtered and had their land stolen. It was done by some of my other ancestors.

    When and where did that happen, and how is it relevant?

  10. But Tasmanian Governor Kate Warner said Australians should consider moving the date to better reflect the concerns of Indigenous people.

    “Australia Day has been evolving — what it means has been evolving for a long time, and I think will continue to evolve — and I can quite understand how Aboriginal people feel about it and think that it’s invasion day rather than Australia Day,” she said.

    Part of the problem is that, under Howard I think it was, Australia Day evolved into something that was more about right wing white yobbo’s wrapping themselves in the Australian flag instead of the relatively low key celebration it used to be.

    Macfarlane: Move Australia Day to March 1

    Mr Macfarlane said his change of mind was prompted by triple j considering changing the date for the Hottest 100 and the Freemantle Council’s decision to boycott Australia Day.

    “In the end, the Government will have to act on the date, whether that’s the current Government or the next Government, because this issue isn’t going to go away,” he said.

    “It’s going to continue to divide Australians at a time when we need to be united.”

    Mr Macfarlane, who is now the chief executive of the Queensland Resources Council, said Australia Day could be moved to March 1, as it was the day the Commonwealth started functioning as one nation under one Government.

    “It can’t be the day of Federation (1 January) because people will be hungover from New Year’s Day, quite frankly,” he said.

    “It does need to be in the warmer months so we can continue the Australian tradition of celebrating in the great outdoors, so I’ve gone for 1 March — and let the debate begin.”

    Mr Macfarlane spoke at the Australian Unity Great Australia Day Breakfast.

    “Today is the first time in a quarter of a century of public life that I’m going to deliver what I term a bleeding-heart speech,” he said ahead of the event.

    “I ran a pretty big business portfolio, I’m a pretty matter-of-fact guy and I say it like it is and I don’t do bleeding heart speeches.”

    McFarlane is right. It is time for a rethink.

  11. Jumpy, please take a jump.

    Ops, touched a nerve.
    I have Irish, Scottish, Pom and German as far as I know.
    Perhaps someone can unscramble that omelet and tell me if I’m in deficit or credit ?

    When and where did that happen, and how is it relevant?

    The relevance is everyones ancestors suffered, but that has no bering on the future.

    Now, are you waiting for the Government to demand you hand your land deeds over or will you be proactive due to your convictions ?
    That question is still out there.

  12. We need a celebration of all the multicultural threads that have come together to create the Australia of today. For this reason the date should not be tied to something specific that happened in the past. Better still, something like the first Saturday in March so that there is no actual date.
    In addition, we need something else that acknowledges the invasion and the disruption of cultures that had developed in Australia for a long long time. Trying to combine the celebration and remembrance of a tragedy into one event seems to be unfeeling to me.

  13. Jumpy, it didn’t touch a nerve, I just think what happened to your ancestors in some far off land is not relevant to Australia’s situation, where there was a clear invasion and subjugation by a colonial power, and in many cases the local inhabitants were shot like vermin. I didn’t think your suggestion that I find the local tribe and donate them my house block (owned with my wife) was worth replying to. For starters, the tribe doesn’t exist as an entity any more.

    John, Macfarlane has come up Trumps on this one.

  14. “You have the option of giving the land you live on back to the local Tribe if you wish.
    Will you ?”

    How about just acknowledging openly that Australia was declared “vacant’ by the claim of the Governor and Captain of the “first fleet” or ‘oppressed boat people’ Arthur Phillip on 26 January. That is several days actually after they have arrived.

    As a immigrant, celebrating the 35th year of my arrival today, it always baffles me how much these so called conservatives are bleeding about ‘tradition’ and ” …but we have always ..”.

    Get this

    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.

    Where as objections to this date, for obvious reasons of what the date really and actually signifies, has been objected to almost from the beginning and declaring the Jan 26 as the Day of Mourning and Protest.

    I mean if you really are into tradition and symbolism how about day of Federation or inauguration of First Government or if we as a Nation would have any grace and generosity could make it the 27th of May. Surely even BilB’s last Monday in January is more fair dinkum than celebrating the signing of a very dodgy real estate scam to build a massive prison camp and plunder the locals.

  15. Brian,
    If I remember correctly the Judge in the Mabo case explicitly ruled a ” settlement ” not an ” invasion ” and therefore native title could still exist. If ” invasion ” it doesn’t. Happy to be corrected.

    The way I see it your wife has 2 options if ” Always was, always will be, Aboriginal Land.” is what she believes.
    1) Advertise in the local paper any Aboriginal claimants to come forward to claim their land back, then give it back now.

    I can understand your reluctance at this as you would see some ownership due to your efforts to buy it.

    2) Leave it to the claimants in your Will.

    What’s it to be ?

  16. Oh and Brian, I just assumed the home you live in was yours or jointly owned with your wife as you’ve always termed it ” my place ” or ” our home ” etc..

    If its in your wifes name for tax avoidance purposes I completely understand and would do the same thing.

  17. I think it’s “tenants in common”, but your line of argument is a red herring, so I’m not going to engage.

    However, I think you’ll find that native title does not persist in the suburbs.

  18. Jumpy, we deliberately named our place Yumbunga, meaning camp or home in the local muluridji lingo. We are seriously considering to include a large part of our estate towards the local Muluridgi Health organisation in our will.

    Now please get off your high horse unless you are donating your earthly belongings to the British crown. Seriously your arguments are as usual shallow and ridiculously personal only to troll and deflect from the real topic again. As I said the fact is, that Jan 26 was the date when a extremely dodgy real estate deal went over to land boat peopl, which were stuck in hulks often for years and pillage the locals to make a quick buck. It may suit certain contemporary political ideologies which indulge in perpetuating those practices.

    Let me ask you, what do you consider of such significance to make the 26 of January our National day?

  19. The differences between Aboriginal culture and European culture is what one can live without, rather than what one has to live with, and time.

    The little piece of paper and a reference in a journal that declare that a bit of Australia “belongs” to a particular person are irrelevant in Aboriginal terms. They own this land in spirit and in time. The 300 years of European occupation are a speck in terms of Aboriginal stewardship of this chunk of the living Earth’s surface. Just as the Romans came and went from Britain, so too will the British eventually give up their occupational dominance of this land. And they will do it for the very reason that made it nearly impossible to get established in the first place, the things we need to live are not compatible with the land.

    Climate Change is certain to shrink European occupation of Australia down to small parts of this continent, and I am pretty sure that Jumpy will be abandoning his land far sooner than most others. Fifty years of sea level rise and a few cyclones in quick succession will return Mackay to the Aborigines and the salt water crocks. Time is on their side.

  20. The link to Professor Kate Darian-Smith above points out that Governor Phillip marched in and proclaimed sovereignty of the eastern half of the continent as the Colony of new South Wales.

    Other colonies had their own foundation days, and resistance to celebrating the day goes back a very long way.

    It wasn’t until 1935, that all states adopted a common date and name for Australia Day, January 26 and a national holiday was established by the 1940s.

    In the second half of the 20th century, the federal government began to take an increasingly prominent role in organising Australia Day. It established the National Australia Day Committee — which became a federally funded council in 1984.

    She also says that now:

    Elsewhere in the world, foundation days commemorating European colonisation are similarly contested.

    I think people wanting to keep things as they are will find themselves on the wrong side of history. Last Monday in January is a good compromise, and could mark the return to school in many states, apart from Tasmania, who seem to need more holidays.

  21. Brian, Ootz and anyone else that thinks your land belongs to someone else, and thinks that’s unjust, give it back now.

    No greasy words or arguments have explained why you won’t hold yourself to your own beliefs. There’s a H word for that position.

    I’m about now and the future, and my land is mine, today.

  22. Australia Day is a suitable occasion to consider our future.

    Mad Max aside what do we see Australia becoming in the next 100 years.

    Assuming that disease decimates human population down to a quarter of what it is today and Climate Change reshapes agriculture and industry, how would Australia fare and what are the essential components of surviving the future? What are the durable elements of our existence? What do we attempt to retain and what do we give up in the future.

  23. Jumpy, not at any time did I say that my land or the land belongs to someone else. You are just making stuff up again.

    The land has been taken. We shouldn’t be celebrating the day it happened. Got that?

  24. Jumpy you are making things up again to suit your distorted view. No one said anything anywhere near what you are insinuating. If you want to discuss the current topic seriously you have to pay more attention to what is being said and make your argument legitimate and coherent. If you just want to dump your guts again here then please do that in your own verbal equivalent of a toilet.
    To make it clear, I have no grudge against you and your believes, but I sure wish you had your facts right and a coherent argument when you sprout your fare, or should I say fears here. Your despicable behaviour is the veritable prove that the date should be changed.

  25. Let me spell it out in clear language, what is offending is not what happened in the past. What is offending is the blatend attempt to deny or distract or indeed celebrate the dispossession of the original inhabitant of the Land we live on. What does that say about our national character?

  26. What is offending is the blatend attempt to deny or distract or indeed celebrate the dispossession of the original inhabitant of the Land we live on.

    I’m celebrating any of the things you say we are, how despicable of you to say that.
    I’m celebrating the brilliance of Australia today and the potential for the future.
    Without the deeds of the past, good and bad and unchangeable, we wouldn’t be where we are now.
    Being ” offended ” is on the offended, not me.

    Today people!

  27. You just don’t get it.

    It is not what you are celebrating which is offending

    Let me ask you again and see if you can string a decent coherent argument why it has to be the Jan. 26 ? What is the significance of this date for you?

    No obsfucation, no spin, just a straight forward answer to why this day what makes it worthwhile to celebrate our nation today?

  28. Because the Government says so?? 😀 😀 😀
    I thought we didn’t need no stinkin’ government telling us what to do. Jumpy, seriously, thank you for the biggest laugh so far this year.

  29. Tomorrow, after work, I’m thinking of doing a compendium of insults directed at my good self on this very thread.

    Maybe, could be fun, dunno till then.

  30. Good idea, Jumpy. We can compare notes on the hundreds of long on filth/short on wit insults directed at me on Libertarian websites.

  31. Poor old abused jumpy, the rose pedal wants to celebrate on 13th of May how life is much better today by choosing the leaving of the first fleet. Great, we could celebrate with some mock public hanging and flogging. But then why not choosing August 5th and you could add disemboweling, beheadeding and quartered, if that is what floats your conservative boat at the national day.

  32. Since when is asking to stop obsfusciating and going off topic and demanding a decent coherent argument insulting?
    Are you making this up or do you truly belief this? Have you ever done any self reflection on what you are saying. For example how insulting your denial of what the consequences were of what occurred January 26 in Sydney Cove all those years ago?

  33. Jumpy, the past matters, because it is all contained in the present. It never goes away.

    The Germans invaded 22 countries in WW2, have acknowledged their past deeds and by and large have good relations with all of them, although not perhaps loved.

    The Japanese didn’t acknowledge their past deeds and still have difficulties.

  34. Zoot
    Any objection to 13th May ?

    It depends. How does the government feel about it?
    😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

  35. I’m thinking of doing a compendium of insults directed at my good self on this very thread.

    Please do Jumpy.
    I’m sure we can all support your freedom of speech by asking Brian to ban anybody you feel has offended, insulted, humiliated or intimidated you.

  36. First Monday in February sounds OK to me, as it would float around and occur on various dates from 1st to 7th. So no fixed association with an historical event, including beheadings, floggings, arrival, incineration, victory, defeat, humiliation, departure or national disgrace.

    But it might interfere with kiddies starting school.
    Here in Victoria we send our five-year-olds off to face the perils of Preps at the hottest time of year = early Feb.; smothered in sunscreen, sun-hatted, admonished and yet eager.

    Sweet little things come back exhausted, bruised and dehydrated. Or as pleased as Punch.

    Annual rituals – nothing like them, eh??

  37. A rhetorical question for the Descendants of Convicts:

    Is it Better to Take Offence


    To Take a Fence

    ?? ?? ??

  38. Well, what a looong day.
    I see the pack formed against the outsider again, that’s common.
    I’ll still be grateful for all the happenings that got us to where we are today.

    Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her: but once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game.


  39. Ambiguous: My wife is very proud to have an ancestor who got a free trip on the second fleet. She has a least one other on the third fleet.
    These days that is enough to give her something to boast about and put her a few steps above my ancestors who all had to pay for their trip.
    You need to change the question.

  40. John: your wife’s ancestors were lucky indeed; free passage, then accommodation and meals provided upon arrival.

    Maybe some of Jumpy’s ancestors grumbled about how easy her ancestors had it, at taxpayers’ expense….?

    ‘Take a Fence’ was meant lightheartedly
    as I can’t think of many objects more difficult to steal and less likely to be valuable, than: a fence.

    I am a recent blow-in, no Fleet cachet to boast about.
    Full sea fares to Australia paid in 1950s. Also, my parents were both born over the Dutch, in NZ. But they are humans, not kiwis. Mum has some family legend about ancestors being on a very early boat arriving near (modern) Christchurch, walking over hills; children dying of the cold.


    Jumpy: life is a game, but we don’t all play to win.

  41. Ambi,

    Walking over hills, that was what they call the Bridal Path. So called because cargo bearing horses and mules were led by a bridle rope over this path from Lyttleton Habour to the plains on the other side of the rim of a volcano. It is a bloody steep climb on both sides to a height of 350 metres. Not surprising that it has been preserved in your family history as a notable memory.

  42. Yes, it snows there, it gets cold, windy and misty, but has a spectacular view from the top. Your comment was very emotional for me as I love Christchurch, and spent a lot of time up on the Summit Road. I can sense all of the emotions and experiences of those settlers just from those few words. You should plan a visit, you would understand.

  43. Indeed.

    Parents from Central Otago and Auckland (the latter,, blow-ins from Taranaki); childhood visits always to stay with rellies, so limited span of areas seen.

    Can’t remember centre of Christchurch. Have seen the “French” village used for ships while Lyttleton out of action due to earthquake damage, but our day tour took us up into scenic “Lord of the Rings” country. Spectacular too.

    Dear grandfather in Central began as gold miner, finished as hill country sheep farmer. As an old man he said, “There’s still gold in those hills” and was doubtless correct.

    Will certainly visit again.

  44. Footnote for BilB

    I’ll be seeing Mum tomorrow and will pass on your words about the Bridle Path and Summit Road; Lyttleton, NZ.

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