If you were a tourist attending the Australian Open, and you happened to have been perusing the papers in between sets, you would be forgiven for thinking that the entire country is suffering from a collective identity crisis.
This is because every year, like clockwork, a minority of apparatchiks of the Left up the ante and push to change the date of Australia Day. Every year, as January 26 gets closer, their voices become more strident as they call to change the date of our national holiday.
This week, the Institute of Public Affairs released a poll by Research Now, which asked the simple question ‘Do you think Australia Day should be celebrated on 26 January?’ Seventy per cent of Australians agreed, while only 11 per cent wanted the date changed.
This poll (along with many others) highlight just how spectacularly out of touch some left-leaning groups are with greater part of the population. Preoccupied with identity politics, hell-bent on dividing rather than uniting Australians in the face of opposition from the general populace, this minority will continue to channel its considerable energies into pushing for change, whether the people want it or not.
Last week, for example, Pat Cash said that he will most definitely not be partaking in festivities on Friday because he is exceedingly embarrassed to be an Australian. He, along with his fellow proponents of change, refer to Australia Day as ‘Invasion Day’ because for them it represents violence, bloodshed and generations of suffering.
Recently, Professor Tony Birch, self -described ‘Author, Activist, Academic’ admitted the underlying anti-colonialism that is behind much of the campaign and postulated that changing the date “will do nothing to shake Australia from its colonial settler triumphalism“. This comment reveals that even if Australia Day were to be celebrated on another day, the thirst for change will never be satiated.
This negative view of Australia’s history is not shared by the majority of the Australian people. In the IPA’s poll, when respondents were asked if Australia has a history to be proud of, 76 per cent agreed with this statement, while only nine per cent of Australians disagreed.
Upon changing the date of its citizenship ceremonies, Darebin Council’s consultation of the community comprised asking 81 out of 200 from a total of 146,000 ratepayers. That’s just 0.5 per cent of the population. Furthermore, on its website, the good people at the council are now actively encouraging rebellion, suggesting that people ‘go to work on January 26 and take a different day off’.
This is exactly the kind of divisive behaviour we have come of expect from left wing councils such as Darebin. Thankfully, local councils do not have the power to set public holidays. The Research Now poll, found that only 23 per cent of Australians support local councils in moving citizenship ceremonies from Australia Day, which proves that Darebin Council is completely out of step with ordinary Australians.
Last year, Sue Bolton socialist councillor at Darebin City Council, stated that celebrating Australia Day ‘was like celebrating the Nazi holocaust.’ Over at the University of Western Australia, the student guild’s vice president also compared the celebration of Australia Day to celebrating genocide.
Incidentally, Triple J’s hottest 100 is now going to be played on Saturday 27 January. This is Holocaust Memorial Day, on which day ‘the world remembers the millions of people who have been murdered… during the Holocaust, Nazi persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.’ The crew at Triple J really should have consulted their calendars before deciding upon this particular day in January.
While no one would seriously deny that there have been terrible injustices inflicted on Indigenous people through the course of white settlement, January 26 which marks the arrival of the first white settlers at Sydney Cove. It was the day that the ships of the First Fleet weighed anchor and left their initial landing point of Botany Bay for the superior harbour of Port Jackson and the fresh water of the Tank Stream.
The First Fleet did not bring with it genocide or a holocaust. It was not a floating flotilla of death. It brought with it centuries of accumulated knowledge and the foundations of our political system and cultural heritage. The British on board brought with them the universal values of Western Civilisation which can be applied universally to all humans, no matter their class, gender or race.
Whether we like it or not, each and every one of us in this country are both beneficiaries of, and participants in Western Civilisation. Moreover, as the Research Now poll commissioned by the IPA showed, the majority of Australians do like it – 87 per cent in fact, like it a lot. Like all civilisations, Western Civilisation has its light and dark pages. Those individuals who want to focus solely and entirely on the dark pages are completely and utterly out of touch with the rest of the country, which is quite clearly not suffering from an identity crisis at all.
Dr Bella d’Abrera is the Director of the Foundations of Western Civilisation Program at the Institute of Public Affairs.
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