AUSTRALIA DAY HONOURS DIVISION

Posted by SCA on  January 26, 2021 |
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The “national day” celebrated on 26 January should simply become one of 31 days on the January calendar. Let it mark a birthday, family anniversary, or an appointment but it’s not fit to be a day of national unity.

The holiday upon the 26th should be scrapped. Full stop. A totally different day observing genuine national integration is fair, reasonable, and respectful. Conflating a contentious historical date with parties, protests, AO awards and ham fisted marketing may be a clue that this confected mess doesn’t need cleaning or nuancing of a word or two: it needs to be cleared off the table and put in the bin.

A day to genuinely come together as a nation? Yes. But Australia Day is not unifying; it is ugly and divisive and that’s just how the ruling LNP Morrison Government likes it… until those who don’t like it tip elections. The dirty secret of all those brokering in hate (quietly or otherwise) is that beating down a minority, even as you nod and smile to them, is a vote winner – at least until a mature country has an honest reckoning with itself and the number of people who reject the sophistry, spin and stain upon genuine liberal democracy say they’ve had enough and change. The current prime minister of Australia won’t say so publicly but I believe he likes this division. The division has long served his political ambitions: Angst and division are the Gordon Gekko equivalence of “greed is good” underwriting the modern  but quiet Morrison LNP  mantra that winning is not just good – but all that matters. so long as you win by 50% plus one.

A day whose foundations mark the landing of hostile [British] immigrants has not only divided a nation on a trumped up day of unity but we must also endure it’s poor tenure as a day too long been branded to sell little more than tourism, snags and flags. We need more than a date change we need to change the soul of the day.

The disunity of a minority is fine for the modern LNP: The alienation of minority grants the Morrison Government agency to signal their far right members on the political spectrum as they chum their red meat to cull a thin majority that defines the conservative donor and voter base. The only thing more offensive to equality or respect is Mr Morrison’s perpetual media outreach that is the equivalent if a dismissive  pat on the head to those disquieted and downright outraged.

The PM will give the daggy dad grin and wish them well and bid them a happy day of rest and fun before they’re back the  next day to the fields…. or coalface, shop counters, cafes, showrooms, kitchens, desks and all other places that form the jobs whose proceeds he claims credit and whose sums, when picked from each pocket as taxes/spending and put in the economic pot to serve his real ambitions: aggregate national balance sheets not the actual lives that form those spreadsheets.

We have become a nation where the whole is more important than the parts – at least to Mr Morrison and his government and especially when we’re discussing aggregate job, budget and GDP numbers. A paradox where the LNP Government ultimately serve so few in a nuance of unmitigated greed but claim to care for so many. To invert a Labour Party slogan from the United Kingdom,

THE LNP: FOR THE FEW NOT THE MANY.

Anything that serves the LNP Governments ambitions are celebrated by Mr Morrison, including and sometimes especially division – make no mistake about the latter.

Australia Day is a most perfectly fractured event for his signalling, messaging and endless photo opportunities. The photos and actions of protesters not only welcomed by the LNP Government but a ingredient in their their formula. So long as the balance is right and falls in the Coalition’s favour.

Broken and divided people are far easier to control so long as the majority continue to support the leader; a most sinister form of leadership but I’m seeking the truth – not party donors or votes.

26 January as our day of national celebration is not just the wrong date but for too many decades it’s been crafted to foster marketing, division and poorly mixed messaging. To be sure; tourism bookings benefitted, extreme nationalism ran amok & bottle shops did a brisk trade but is this the Australia we want to celebrate?

First Peoples are alienated and a multicultural cross section of people use the date to protest what many understandably refer to as Invasion Day.

New arrivals to country simply seeking to assimilate are justifiably confused by a date whose messaging and meaning are a dog’s breakfast. The only unifying theme of the day is its pure disunity. In the words of George Gershwin (and popularised by Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers and Louis Armstrong, “Let’s call the whole thing off.”

A hot mess whose temperature and calendar settings need to shift to a healthy space.

The whole of the Australia Day pastiche is a dog’s breakfast. Even the American’s (troubled as they are) managed to set a date for national celebration called Independence Day as a defining historical moment when the country sought emancipation from British colonial tyranny in which taxation with parliamentary representation was pervasive and the reach of the king far to firm.

America is a most imperfect union with grave injustice inflicted upon it’s own First Peoples but Australia has turned the equivalent 4th of July holiday on its head as the Australian nation celebrates the very colonial master’s from which America marked the start of its defiant liberation.

26 January is an historical date in the relative recent history of the continent – no one disputes the singular fact: but to conflate the date w/ a “celebration” of country on the day and use such historical date as an anchor upon which to weigh the nation’s values is just wrong.  Being told by the current prime minister to effectively lift a cup or schooner to the schooners is not unifying: it is an ugly strain of populism – a pox upon country when we need a cure for that which ails us. The division of the day made worse by a current PM who exhibits much of his special “quiet” condescension in effectively telling the disquieted masses to enjoy the day but focus on work the next day. We deserve better than toxic branding exorcises to sell goods and services as culture and unity are smashed to bits. We need more than a new date. We need a new meaning to Australia Day; such would be a modest beginning towards which to build hope for greater respect and dignity within – and for – the country we all occupy and a history we should honour with truth and reconciliation.

The harder right nationalists within the ruling LNP Government intentionally mix-message that the date and day is about a celebration of multicultural Australia and mateship  but that’s gravely insincere sophistry: The day marks an historical act that predated the very AUSTRALIA whilst the DAY is spruiked  and spun by the political right to claim care whilst merely milking a namesake that has too long been left to infect the body politic as it disunites us all.

I can get behind Anzac Day when we recognise a rare union with New Zealand and the shared sacrifices. Sadly the modern LNP is determined to smash even that long union to bits. Anzac Day at least attempts a genuine exorcise in honour. But that is a story for another day. Today is all about 26 January and the federal holiday made law from only 1994.

It’s not historical revisionism to have an honest reckoning with history: it’s an opportunity and indication of a people’s collective capacity to evolve and move forward – together – under an invisible banner of true inclusion. Let us collectively, as Australians, not merely chase signalling, messaging and photo ops. We’re more than this and we can be better than this.

There are rare acts that define a people’s pursuit of truth, unity and a richer common wealth. Let this change be one such rare act. Let a new date and understanding of what we celebrate and recognise as a nation find form on a new national day for Australia. And let such an act be the expression of a maturing country and not merely a calendar marker for a single arrival date of immigrants to the continent Down Under. There is only dignity and no shame in such an honest reckoning with our SHARED history.

My own family elders were here before the continent was even called Australia and before the 1946 decision of all states and territories to call the date Australia Day.  Our family have fought in wars for this country and the New Zealand nation across the Tasman, over the centuries, so few should consider taking a cynical whack at stock for which this family have long engaged, weighed and bled. We don’t think honesty denigrates anyone. Instead, we honour all when we cast greater regard for integrity upon our collective past.

Laws change and evolve – even language and the very meaning of words change over time without repudiating the truth. And to be fair there is very little true or truthful about the current observed date’s dignity in a multicultural society that chooses to have an honest reckoning with its past.

It can – and should – remain an historical date, to be certain, but to call it Australia Day and celebrate is not just dubious but wrong. Let Australia day find a new calendar harbour and grant the day an evolved sense of worth and value.

“But we repudiate the past”, shout those who like the status quo. One should consider a past worthy of repudiation when it is built on dishonesty, segregation and exclusion – no matter how good the feed, drinks and entertainment. Sometimes a bit of “bread and circus” is not enough to sate those who crave genuine liberal democracy.

The risk Morrison takes by maintaining the status quo of Australia Day on 26 January, as every conservative leader before him has taken, is that one day the pendulum will swing against such fomented division, whether such divisive pandering is intentional or tacit. Celebrating 11 ships arrival in Botany Bay laden with the convicted as well as marines, seamen, officers and their families of the British Crown who would come to grow in number and see too many amongst their number wage genocide on the indigenous population may one day come to be decidedly repellant a cause to celebrate to 50% plus one “win” in Parliament; hopefully one day soon such reward will be withdrawn.

If this is the year enough people find the issue too repugnant to let find forgetting in the next news cycle then the long and threadbare cloak cast over the nation can come apart at the seams. It’s time for such a reckoning.

It’s time for change.

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