Sunday, 8 January 2017

A New Date for Australia Day

I feel conflicted about losing Australia day, but I understand how celebrating everything that makes us proud to be Australian shouldn't be held on the same day indigenous Australians regard as the anniversary of the occupation of their land.

I personally don't feel any need to celebrate the landing of the British and the declaration of this country as a colony of Britain as THE day we should celebrate our national day. To celebrate the birth of our nation on a day when it was already 40,000 years into its life only perpetuates our long neglect and ignorance of the native people of this land.

The fact we're moving towards a republic, even if it is at a deathly slow rate, only underlines that many Australian's share this view and the number grows year by year.

So we need a new date. A date we boat people, and descendants of, can throw a V8 doughnut in Bunnings carpark while eating a dollar snag and feel nothing but pride, instead of the lingering guilt over being part of some long dark and continuing history that so disrespects an entire race.

Australians new and old pride ourselves on the Australian character. That streak of the larrikin, the trait Bob Murphy so aptly calls the rascal. If we could come up with a day to celebrate Australia that is also the birthday of a great Australian rascal - a figure who could unite and not divide us in celebration - a person who stuck it up the oppressive Brits and reminded us we are all in this together and on the same side.

If this person's birthday fell in our perfect January summer and allowed us all to have a party in the country's honour, triggered not by a dishonest application of the doctrine of Terra Nullius and two hundred plus years of outrage and oppression, but a date that celebrated everything we know Australians hold to be the spirit of Australia. If the day quietly nodded to those who were here long before any European thonged foot ever squeaked our whiter than white sandy beaches, all the better.

Burnam Burnam is such a man with just as convenient a birthday - January 10th. On the 26th of January, 1988 Burnam Burnam planted an Aboriginal flag below the white cliffs of Dover and decreed to take possession of the lands of England on behalf of the Australian Aboriginal people. In effect, he colonised England.

To me, nothing could be more Australian than that cheeky act of a loveable rascal. It was a serious point well made while having a bit of a laugh in the face of an indefensible, humourless act that still has an impact and can never be undone.

It makes perfect sense that Burnam Burnam's birthday, as a mark of respect towards him as an activist and to his people, whose welfare Burnam Burnam cared and fought for so fiercely throughout his life, that his birthday could easily be adopted as our national day.

Here was a proud descendant from the original Australians, perfectly taking the piss out of the mother country in a manner any Australian, old or new, would be proud to claim as their own.

The time has come for Australia to be an independent nation, a republic and to have a new birthday - why not January 10 - and why not a new flag while we're at it.

No comments:

Post a Comment