It’s Australia Day here in the land of Oz, and, like any true patriot, I skived the day off. (tis a public holiday, but nobody told the mass media masters that. bugger that.)
To celebrate the auspicious landing of white fellahs Down Under — ones who weren’t intending to leave, at least — I ate a sausage roll for breakfast and a meat pie for lunch (with tomato sauce, true blue!) with Anzac bikkies in between. In keeping with the spirit of the occasion, someone kindly brought Arnotts bikkies to our little gathering but I didn’t have the heart to tell them Arnotts isn’t Aussie any more. It’s American-owned. Fortunately, our bikkies haven’t been rebranded cookies, just yet.
Now, a couple of hundred years ago, there was another takeover in Australia, and it’s one that’s causing a bit of dissension among the ranks. Well, some of the ranks. Those ones at the back, actually, largely outside the hall, standing on the steps, shouting to be let in. I’m referring to our indigenous people, the noisiest of whom brand Australian Day ‘invasion day’.
I wonder if we shouldn’t consider, between the beach cricket, the park barbecue and the social piss-up (or in our case, a photography outing to Brisbane State Forest), that maybe those invasion day claims have a bit of currency. Our PM took a big step forward with his apology to indigenous Australians for their mistreatment since white colonisation. Maybe a shift of our national day to something a little brighter and inclusive might also be in order.
The debate brings to mind a great cartoon I saw years ago, in which two Native Americans are watching a sailing ship arriving at a big rock, and one is saying to his mate, “I think it might have been better if Plymouth Rock had landed on the Pilgrims.”
ADDENDUM: I just caught the news, and PM Kevin Rudd has quashed the idea of changing Australia Day’s date. Let’s hope we can find a space outside the jingoism for making sure we don’t repeat the mistakes of yore, and make the national celebration something we can all share in.