My completely honest opinion on Australia Day – who really gives a shit?
For the last few years we have been caught up in a whirlwind of protests against the Australia Day holiday on the 26th of January, and quite frankly I do not understand why. I am entirely sympathetic to the fact that our Indigenous population see it as a day of great sorrow, referring to it most commonly as Invasion Day. I will start off by saying that if Australia Day need exist at all, there are a number of other dates that would seem more appropriate.
- January 1st: In 1901, this is the day that Australia officially became a Federation and was no longer a part of the British Empire.
- March 3rd: In 1986 legislation was passed that broke the constitutional ties between Australia and Britain for good (our only connection now is our membership in the Commonwealth and the Governor General as the Queen’s representative).
- May 27th or August 10th: On May 27th 1967 the referendum to recognise Aboriginal people in the Constitution as an actual part of the populace had an overwhelming (90.77%) result of “Yes”. Before then, some were considered under the label flora and fauna in the eyes of the law. August 10th was when the changes were officially made.
There are probably some other significant dates that could be considered as inclusive or preferable to the current placeholder that I’ve missed or am not aware of. And I honestly could not care less when the day is, at risk of sounding insensitive – which I’ll admit, if it does, is simply a result of the fact I am not Indigenous myself. I attach no significance to any particular day of the year, but as I said before, I am sympathetic to those who consider the 26th to be a terrible date to commemorate Australia Day.
The reason for my lack of opinion on the topic of when the day is held has nothing to do with my opinion of Indigenous issues, but solely on the question of why Australia Day exists in the first place. The idea of a day that celebrates national pride and ‘patriotism’ seems absurd to someone who does not choose to recognise nationality or ethnicity as a defining part of their identity. Where one is born and their ethnic origins may be of general and conversational interest, but I will not have it dictated to me that I am to celebrate the fact I’m a citizen of a landmass with an imaginary line drawn around it. Scott Morrison attempting to strongarm Councils into compulsory celebrations is borderline authoritarian and, plainly, bullshit.
I am an Australian citizen of European descent, and that does not matter to me in the slightest. I am first and foremost a human being on this planet, and I have no desire to ‘patriotically’ celebrate the restrictive concept of nationalism, no matter what day of the year such an event is held on.
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