Gone are the days, it seems, when we could boast about our ‘bloody beautiful’ barbecues, quick beach getaways and rare family get-togethers over the annual January long weekend.
It’s reached a stage where the words ‘Australia Day’ conjure up a series of news articles, arguing back and forth about the ignorance of holding such a celebration on the culture–destroying ‘invasion day’ that is 26 January.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called Australia ‘the most successful migrant country on Earth’. And yet, it’s this very status that makes it so controversial to continue celebrating our national day.
As we all know by now, 26 January marks the arrival of the British First Fleet in 1788, the raising of the Union Jack and the beginning of violent oppression of the First Australians.
As such, the date is tainted with this cruel bloodshed…so every year, when it rolls around, debate ensues.
Here at The Australian Tribune, we support the rights of our First Australians. However, we also support the passing of time, and believe a day’s meaning can change from it.
We’re here to set the record straight.
A history you may not know
While the raising of the Union Jack and the proclamation of British sovereignty did in fact occur on 26 January, Captain James Cook’s First Fleet actually reached Botany Bay a week prior, on January 18.
While the 26 January would still align with the beginning of Indigenous oppression, we found it interesting knowing this publicly-accepted fact — and a crux of the Aussie day naysayer argument — was in fact inaccurate.
But finger-pointing aside, we think it’s important to understand the evolution of Australia Day, and that it doesn’t necessarily commemorate this horrific event.
First off, it wasn’t always called Australia Day. In the early years, it was known more accurately as ‘First Landing Day’ or ‘Foundation Day’, in which early settlers would host dinners to celebrate.
A much less inclusive version of the day, don’t you think?
And more importantly, this early version of the 26 January celebration only happened in New South Wales.
Other states had different days. WA celebrated on 1 June. South Australia held theirs on December 28. But neither were known as Australia Day.
It was almost 130 years later when this name came about. And when it was eventually used, it had nothing to do with the British First Fleet.
In actual fact, the first ever ‘Australia Day’ happened in 1915, and it was a day to raise funds for the First World War effort.
An effort we still respect and appreciate over 100 years later.
That’s where Australia Day truly began. And it’s this surplus of hope, love and appreciation that our nation displayed during these difficult war times which should be the core of what this day means to us.
And we aren’t the only ones that think this.
Aussies’ opinion on Australia day
A recent poll commissioned by the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) of 1,000 Australians found that 88% of them are ‘proud to be Australian’ and 76% believe ‘Australia has a history to be proud of’.
Dr Bella d’Abrera, Director of the Foundations of Western Civilisation Program at the IPA, had some positive summations about these results.
‘Mainstream Australians are fundamentally optimistic and positive about Australia and its values.
‘These results demonstrate that freedom of speech and freedom of religion are important values for mainstream Australians. They are not the fringe issues as often portrayed by the political class.’
But why must it be 26 January, you may be thinking? Well, why not? As Dr d’Abrera also noted:
‘Only 8% of young people between the ages of 18-24 say Australia Day should not be celebrated on 26 January. Which proves that despite the media and political left narrative, young people are not drawn to the divisive argument of opposing our national day.
‘26 January marks the foundation of modern Australia and it should to be celebrated by all Australians. Rather than being ashamed of it, we should be proud of it.’
And as good old ScoMo also highlighted on Twitter in September last year:
‘Indulgent self-loathing doesn’t make Australia stronger. Being honest about the past does. Our modern Aus nation began on January 26, 1788. That’s the day to reflect on what we’ve accomplished, become, still to achieve. We can do this sensitively, respectfully, proudly, together.’
Well, we’re certainly convinced.
But if, even with these facts in mind, 26 January is still a date that you cannot bring yourself to associate with the worth of our nation…well, you’re in luck.
The Australia Day public holiday was bumped to 28 January this year. So crack open a stubby…there’s really no reason not to celebrate.
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