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.