Contributed by Ben Wilson
For no good reason, John Howard selected 26 January to celebrate Australia’s day as a nation. There is nothing wrong with Australians celebrating their collective nationhood. But it must be for the right reasons. Choosing a date that reminds First Nations people of the loss of their home by invaders is wrong. Thid hurt must be removed.
There are far better dates when we can celebrate our growth as a people and do it for the right reasons.
In short, the present date was chosen by a prime minister who was not shy to show he’s dislike for the first people who lived on this land. He opposed every move that might improve the effects of disposition. He refused to say sorry, at the time when the bulk of Australia was pulling the other way. Choosing the date when the First Fleet arrived in 1788 and the appointed governor Phillip planted the British flag on what was to be converted into Australia was a deliberate provocation.
Oil painting by Algernon Talmage depicting the raising of the British flag and the colonisation of the land by the British
The present Australia date has existed only from 1994. Before that it was observed on different dates across the states. This means that it has no historical roots other than an invasion, occupation, and colonisation by a foreign power. Celebrating these things is way off the mark.
Thos doesn’t mean that those whose ancestors or they themselves came here since have anything to be ashamed of. The reality is that that Australian nationhood involves us all, including the First Nations. We are now a diverse people from many lands, who have much more in common than what separates us. Our destiny is bound together.
The rise of nationhood is connected to the rupture from the colonial past and the harm visited on those who were living here before the first Fleet. This shift towards becoming a nation in our own right can’t be completed without consciously standing on our own feet and correcting the wrongs of the past and present.
We have a lot to be collectively proud about. Our forebears got together and waged an ongoing battle against foreign domination and united a group of colonies into one nation. Our ancestors fought for a fairer Australia.
First Nations people’s fight fought for their own liberation since 1788 till now. This is just as important. White Australia must recognise and support this ongoing battle this to grow into what is [possible.
Australia day must celebrate what brings us together and not what divides us. First Nations have good reason to consider 26 January as Invasion Day. The date must be changed.