Let’s have an Australia Day when we are ready for it

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

 

Sir – As we surface from another bunfight over Australia Day, without doubt the most divisive to date, it is perhaps a timely moment to pick over the battlefield for anything that may be useful for next year.

 

Some amongst us have argued for the retention of a date that celebrates the landing of the First Fleet of British ships at Port Jackson in 1788, supported by political heavyweights including the nation’s Prime Minister, whilst many others have acknowledged that, to many of our Indigenous peoples, it remains a day of pain and sorrow, signifying the beginning of a process of dispossession.

 

The pivotal points remain the date, the 26th of January, and the issue: just what is it that we are celebrating?

 

Most other nations have a national day, generally commemorating a date upon which they were united or attained independence, including most of the nations that once made up the British Empire.

 

Canada, for example, celebrates its national day on the 1st of July, the date upon which its Constitution Act (1867) was legislated, uniting the three separate colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick into a single, self-governing dominion within the British Empire, also referred to as the “date the nation was born”.  The name “Canada Day” was formally adopted in October 1982.

 

An Australian equivalent would be the 1st of January, 1901, when the six separate colonies became states of the Commonwealth of Australia, under a new constitution, following the passing of legislation by the British Parliament permitting the six states to govern in their own right.  This would be a logical Australia Day, were it not already a holiday, and we cannot have that, can we?

 

Italy’s national day is held on the 2nd of June, the date upon which the Italian population voted in 1946 to free itself of the reigning monarchy and declared itself a republic.  The day is referred to as “Republic Day”, but also as the more direct “Liberation Day”.

 

A better example, because it bears a history in many ways so similar to our own, may be the story behind New Zealand’s national day, celebrated on the 6th of February.  Officially referred to as Waitangi Day, it commemorates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, also referred to as New Zealand’s founding document, between the British Crown and the New Zealand Maori chiefs in 1840.

 

Which brings me back to Australia.

 

It seems to me that our annual verbal stouch will get us nowhere until we answer the question of what exactly should an “Australia Day” celebrate?

 

Most certainly, it would need to celebrate our unity, not in a forced “my way or the highway”, but in a way that is voluntarily given and genuinely heart-felt by all in our multi-cultural communities.  We are certainly a long way from achieving this, particularly as it requires by its very nature a reconciliation with decedents of the nation’s original inhabitants.

 

In addition, it would need to celebrate our true independence as a nation, but this too is not really possible under the present circumstances, saddled as we are with a system whereby we retain a Queen’s representative, in the form of the Governor-General, to keep an eye on us.

 

The only conclusion I can draw from all this is that, as a nation, we are not yet ready to have an “Australia Day” worthy of the name and that this fact that renders the current debate unreconcilable.

 

Yes, perhaps we ought to abolish the day for now, relegate the issue to the back burner until, perhaps, some time in the future, following the passing of our reigning monarch, when we, as a people, can hold a referendum to determine the kind of government we want for our nation, guided by a new Constitution that includes and respects the voices of our Indigenous peoples.

 

If it is democratically resolved at that time that we are to be a republic, we could then declare our very own, all inclusive national day, the date pre-selected so as to not offend anyone nor conflict with existing holidays, a very important point.

 

Now THAT would be an Australia Day worth celebrating.

 

Domenico Pecorari

Alice Springs

 

 

 

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14 Comments (starting with the most recent)

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  1. James T Smerk
    Posted February 3, 2018 at 2:33 pm

    @ Laughing: Very interesting. Any comment, Jimmy?

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  2. Posted February 2, 2018 at 7:22 am

    @ Hal Duell. Facebook is only a nasty bit of work if you make it so. It is simply an extension of Alexander Graham Bell’s industrial revolution communication invention. The telephone was the 19th and 20th century way of rallying the troops ar short notice to attend meetings and rallies. Now it is Facebook and Twitter. So we must get over it and use the new medium wisely.

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  3. Hal Duell
    Posted February 1, 2018 at 2:22 am

    Maybe I should start going to Council meetings again, if for no other reason than to enjoy the fireworks.
    Reading the preceding comments, I am once again convinced that the whole Facebook phenomenon is a truly nasty piece of gear.
    Why anyone would go there, would pay it the slightest bit of attention, is beyond me.

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  4. Beverley Ruth Emmott
    Posted January 31, 2018 at 11:28 pm

    Indigenous don’t want Australia day in January – in other words they want to stay in 1776 to 1786. Why do they want this? It seems they never could accept that this country was taken over by the whites but in the process both black and white suffered.
    What do they want Australia for? To big note themselves? If it were not for white they would still be hunting animals, fighting amonst themselves, have no education and no chance at a lifestyle like some have now.
    Australia once was owned by the Aboriginals. It could have become Dutch but the English took over.
    I have heard so many of the oldies say let the government look after us. You whites can pay tax but we don’t need to – very much like big business and mining.
    What they actually want is to be dependents and have everyone else look after them, ransack others’ places and generally destroy what others took years to build up.

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  5. Laughing
    Posted January 31, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    So Jimmy, by your liking of the Facebook page Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance it would be safe to assume your are in support of their calls to “Burn Australia to the F#$king Ground”?
    It’s about time all councillors got on with the job at hand and give the grandstanding a rest.

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  6. John Bell
    Posted January 31, 2018 at 10:36 am

    @ Jimmy Cocking. Facebook callouts are a game-changing fact of modern day politics.
    They are a time-effective way of mobilising every interest group under the sun everywhere in Australia at a moment’s notice, not just at Alice Council meetings.
    They are used by the Left and the Right and tend to attract fanatics from the Far Left every bit as much as from the Far Right.
    You have seen the violence reported after so many Facebook callouts Down South in the Big Smoke. As a Councillor who expresses your own particular outspoken council views – as does every other Councillor – you should perhaps develop a teflon coat and suck it up.
    Who knows? You may yourself feel the need to mobilise your supporters on social media in the future.

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  7. Evelyne Roullet
    Posted January 31, 2018 at 10:30 am

    Let’s put all the proposed dates in a box, have a child pick one publicly on the step of the Parliament House and forget the saga.

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  8. Evelyne Roullet
    Posted January 31, 2018 at 10:00 am

    @ Local1: I was not there last night, but I take your world for it: It is a very sad situation indeed, that I have voted for Jacinta or not, I know she deserves respect, and if she is in the social media, good. It is publicity for Alice.

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  9. Alice Local
    Posted January 31, 2018 at 9:49 am

    Dom, every year this comes out on this date, leave the bl**dy date alone. As people have pointed out, there more important issues than this and the s**t stirrers should get off the band wagon and think about the country not themselves for once!

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  10. Jimmy Cocking
    Posted January 31, 2018 at 7:59 am

    @ Local1: Factually incorrect. The vitriol on Monday night was largely coming from supporters of Cr Price where a fellow Councillor was threatened with violence for reading a statement of unity and reconciliation from the Arrernte women.
    Appalling behaviour considering these people attended in response to a Facebook callout for support by Cr Price herself.
    In regards to your opinion, if you can’t speak out without a pseudonym, then your opinion has a lot less weight in my opinion, especially when peddling mistruths.

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  11. Kathy
    Posted January 31, 2018 at 7:55 am

    Australia Day to me is the first landing of the Britsh setting foot on to Australian land.
    A coming together of all people of Australia to celebrate how far we all have come, not a conquering of other people.
    It is about time we all stopped living in the past and moved on.
    Looking back will never change the past, it’s what we do in the future that matters.
    Not blaming and not being responsible for that past, separates and decides our nation.

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  12. Local 1
    Posted January 30, 2018 at 8:32 pm

    Domenico, have you ever seen people reaching consensus on these pages or on Facebook?
    In this age of everybody having an opinion and exesising their right to do so, I fear of consensus and agreement you were used to have long gone.
    Look at the situation with the town council last night or the pure hatred and vitriol aimed at Jacinta Price for being on social media.

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  13. Posted January 30, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    Not necessarily, James, if the date is selected via proper consultation with all sections of the Australian community.

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  14. James T Smerk
    Posted January 28, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    I don’t think it would matter what date it could be changed to. It will always be seen by some people as a bad day.
    It still makes me wonder why no one seems to care about the British apologising, as they started all this stuff and are responsible for the initial settlement of this country. Aren’t they?

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