No Australia Day on January 26
CELEBRATING Australia Day on 26 January should cease.
The suggestion that a change is abandoning Australian heritage and values is unsupported by history. The first settlement at Sydney Cove was illegal: as shown in the Mabo decision, the continent was not “terra nullius”. It was owned and operated by the world’s oldest civilisation, the Aboriginal peoples, who had been in residence for at least 65,000 years. They have every reason to call 26 January Invasion Day.
The Sydney Cove settlement was also part of a vicious UK penal system which served to perpetuate upper class rule. We should have no pride in either of these historical facts. I’m a direct descendant of one of the first fleet convicts, and am sure that he would have preferred to be back in Cornwall than at Sydney Cove in 1788. His crime was stealing just a coat, for which he was sent, effectively for life, to the other side of the world.
There is little heritage attached to 26 January: it was first recognised by all states as late as 1935, and fixed as a public holiday in 1994. It has waning popularity. WA in particular is unenthusiastic. Of course we can still have a national day, but let’s adopt one which does not have a disreputable history. There are numerous good alternatives: Wattle Day (my favourite) on 1 September, Federation Day on 1 January, Indigenous Constitutional Recognition Day on 27 May, and Commonwealth assumption of control in Australia on 1 March being just a few. We can have pride in the day, keep the backyard esky stumps and have a good party, just not on 26 January.
Llewellyn Davies OAM
Politicians play with capital works figures
click here to read the rest of this story