Flat White

Three thoughts to guarantee a guilt-free Australia Day

26 January 2019

6:00 AM

26 January 2019

6:00 AM

A recent poll by the Institute of Public Affairs has shown that a mere 11 per cent of Australians want to change the date of Australia Day.

Despite this, 2019’s Australia Day pre-celebrations have begun once again with the ritualistic disparagement of our national day by the far-left.

As a proud, young Australian I find this charade from the radical and divisive minority, led by the Greens, tiring.

What those seeking to ‘Change the Date’ fail to state is their complete and utter rejection of our nation’s shared values, flag and culture.

It’s time this narrative is put to rest.

Australia Day is not divisive, it is unifying. Here are three reasons why.

Firstly, January 26 is the day modern Australia was born.

That doesn’t mean we reject the 60,000 years of indigenous culture and heritage that preceded the arrival of the First Fleet.

Rather, it is the starting point of our shared contemporary Australian identity, culture and democratic society.

In fact, Australia Day 2019 marks 70 years since the introduction of Australian citizenship – an important milestone in our nation’s story.

National days that celebrate a country’s achievements and its people are important.

They foster a sense of shared identity and unity, which is particularly important in the disruptive era of globalisation and the internet.

Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently noted this in his book Right Here, Right Now:

Celebrations of nationalism are respites from its [globalisation] stresses and shared experiences to counteract its fragmenting pressures.

This unifying force is as important as ever, particularly for people of my generation – millennials – who have formed closer connections online with people across the globe than with their next-door neighbours.

Celebrating makes our shared identity, culture and society on our nation’s birthday vital to the long-term future success of Australia.

Secondly, Australia Day and, by extension, Australia, has wrongly been characterised as something we must be ashamed of.

Critics of Australia Day would rather our nation shame itself for the mistakes of its past.

White Australia and the stolen generation are part of our nation’s history.

We should not deny them, and we are truly sorry for them.

It is for these reasons that we must remember our history – to make sure that we never repeat our mistakes.

On the balance sheet of history, Australia’s story is overwhelmingly positive.

We are one of the oldest continuing democracies in the world.

We have produced life-altering technologies like wi-fi to the cochlear implant, which has given thousands of people like my father the ability to hear.

We are a shining beacon of the success of multiculturalism, that calls all people Australian, whether they be indigenous, descendants of early British settlers, post-war migrants like my grandparents and newer arrivals still.

Washington Post columnist Bari Weiss recently observed on her visit to “Canada in a thong” that, “Australians never seem to doubt that there is more to life than politics.”

This is an achievement we ought to be eminently proud of and guard carefully. It suggests a nation happy in its skin.

Finally, the most consistent and divisive criticism of Australia Day is that it is offensive to our indigenous population.

The ‘Invasion Day’ narrative has been co-opted by fringe elements of our society – again the Greens and radical left – to conflate serious indigenous issues with an attack upon our society.

These radicals seek only to tear down Australian society and create divisions between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, yet this fails to tackle the genuine issues facing indigenous Australians.

Newly installed Today Show reporter Brooke Boney, a Gamilaroi Gomeroi woman, has received significant media attention for her comments on how Australia Day is a painful reminder of the disadvantage that Indigenous Australians face.

It is a sad truth that Indigenous people still face significant disadvantages in modern Australia.

However, changing the date won’t change these statistics.

While we should continuously reflect on what can be done to improve Indigenous living standards, we should not seek to trash and divide our nation to achieve it.

Australia Day is a day for all of us.

It is a day we can, and should, all be proud of – regardless of race, gender, age, religion or ethnicity.

The comments of renowned Indigenous musician Witiyana Marika of Youthu Yindi highlight this: “I want to change my people to lean forward instead of fighting… Unity and redemption, to reconcile each other, yeah, to live together in harmony. That’s my dream, that’s my hope.”

It’s a dream and hope that all Australians should have each day; a dream we should realise on Australia Day.

This Australia Day let’s all unite to celebrate our nation’s great achievements and keep advancing Australia together.

Dimitry Palmer is Vice-President of the NSW Young Liberals and a Law Student at the University of Sydney.

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