Opinion: Australia Day is for ‘bringing the country together’ and clearly it is working

As the editor of most newsrooms in this great country will tell you, as a white man, my opinion is the one that matters. It may be ‘unwoke’ to say this, but my perspective is objective. And because I said that, it is objectively true.

All this is to say that as we look around the country today, on this day of bringing the nation together, do you see any division?

No, obviously not, because the day is working as intended. And as they always say, why fix what ain’t broken?

Growing up I always celebrated Australia Day, I think. I mean it kind of melded together with the other holidays, but now as an adult it is definitely one of the top five public holidays every year.

As an adult the day went from a holiday to celebrate Australia, whatever that means, to being a day to celebrate Australia that just so happens to land on the anniversary of when colonisers landed in Sydney. 

This holiday is as important to our culture as celebrating the Queen on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend. An unchangeable beat in the metronome of Australian life. 

Wait, is it now called the King’s Birthday long weekend? I can’t remember, but either way changing Australia Day in any way would be like not celebrating the Queen/King’s birthday on the public holiday for it or not having that holiday on a different day than his actual birthday.

I mean, sure, some First Nations Australians do say every year that they are ‘hurt’ by us deliberately celebrating on the day that led to centuries of suffering, but to them I say, your pain and suffering is very much central to the story of Australia, and therefore very much what Australia Day celebrates.

This day is more than just what it means in 2024. It’s a tradition. A long held tradition dating all the way back to the mid-1990s. That is a really long time, there are Gen Z teens who weren’t even born the day this became a national holiday. 

(If Indigenous Australians had any traditions that date back further than that, then I assume we would be celebrating them too, but based on what I was taught in school they didn’t.)

During the 90’s Paul Keating stared down a nation that was terrified by media coverage of the ‘Indigenous land theft’ about how the scary First Nations people were going to steal all our houses and land that our ancestors took from them. Keating knew that the best way to heal his polls was for Australia to celebrate what it really means to be Australian, by copying American style patriotism.

Although the Australia Day we all know and go ‘oh yeah that’s coming up’ didn’t fully become the flag fest that we know it today until John Howard came to power. You can be cynical about the reasons for jingoistic tilt that Australia Day took under Howard, but when has he ever done anything to specifically target Indigenous Australians in a sadistic attempt to make their lives worse?

And the tradition doesn’t just start and end with the day itself. It even has its own Christmas style build up. But instead of an Advent Calendar with chocolates, we get weeks of everyone yelling at each other. If we change the date we lose that tradition!

Changing the date or abolishing the holiday creates a slippery slope. The question is where does it end? A question I do not want anyone to answer, but I do want you to be afraid of.

If we stop celebrating on a day that is inclusive of First Nations Australians, what next, telling the truth about our history as a nation or First Nations deaths in custody? Or even worse, making white people feel embarrassed if they celebrate colonialism? That is basically racism against the Southern Cross Tattoo community.

Worst of all, if we move the date, when will I be able to have a barbecue with the boys? You know, besides the weekend or whatever day it moves to?

Those who stand against this glorious holiday are simply selfish and don’t think about those of us who don’t give a fuck about their feelings or whether they feel alienated in their own home.

So come on Australia, get out the Cambodian-made Aussie flag thongs that will break the moment you put your foot in them, grab a Chinese-made Aussie flag stubby holder and remember to celebrate this day of acceptance. By not accepting anyone who does not feel like celebrating or any of their heartfelt pleas. We’ve done it for centuries, what’s another year?

– By Editor John Delmenico

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