Well of course it is ridiculous to celebrate Australia Day on January 26, the day the First Fleet of British convicts and soldiers arrived to invade the land of our Aboriginal compatriots for the previous 60,000 years. Surely that goes without saying.
Tony Abbott would have a point in asserting that the British arrival has led to the creation of a great country, if only it were done differently. But the British chose extermination over negotiation, then justified it with the vile notion of racism.
Their colonialists had wreaked a terrible cost in their earlier depredations in the Caribbean as leaders of the slave trade, in Africa, India, America, Canada and China where they attempted to turn the most populous nation in the world into opium addicts. But the attempted genocide they perpetrated on the Aboriginal people was the sine qua non of colonial horror stories.
And they want us to ‘celebrate’ it’s inception?
Bill Shorten’s Labor Party is as lily-livered as usual. And the Liberals’ Duke of Plaza-Toro, is leading from the rear. The Greens have taken up the cudgels and there seems to be a fair body of opinion supporting them. But if not January 26 then what? Everyone wants an alternative, and like Veruca Salt in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, they want it now!
But is that really a good idea?
There are lots of possibilities, perhaps January 1 being the least objectionable. On that day in 1901 the Federation of the colonies brought Australia officially into being. But we still acted like one big colony for many years afterward. Britain handled our foreign policy, for example, until World War II and even now they provide us with a head of state from their royal theme park.
The truth is that we can’t have an Australia Day that everyone can celebrate until we cut the final ties with the British colonials and declare a republic. And at the same time we should finally sign a Treaty with the Aboriginal people. That, at last, would recognise the Australian coming-of-age.
Until then, I reckon, we should retain January 26, because it’s so awful that it’s a great incentive to get weaving on the transition to a republic.
Now to lower the tone a little, once that happens, perhaps we could become self-confident enough to stop engaging these annoyingly overbearing English commentators for our sporting events.
The cricket on Channel Nine this summer has been outrageous. The in-house Pom, Mark Nichols is barely able to contain his enthusiasm for the English side over the Australian team. ‘Guest’ commentators like former English test player Kevin Pietersen babble their support for their compatriots. And it seems to be catching – former Australian captain Michael Clarke in particular comments as though he’s rooting for the opposition. And all the time the so-called ‘Barmy Army’ nearly drowns them out with their constant chanting and singing of English doggerel.
In the tennis we’re plagued by the American Jim Courier for the men and the English ‘Sam’ Smith for the women, both of whom chatter so endlessly you have to think they’re paid by the word.
So there you have it. And boy does it feel good to have that off my chest!
Robert Macklin has carved out a unique place among Australia’s literary biographers and historians. His Dark Paradise swept aside the curtain of euphemism to expose the horror of colonial sadism on the penal colony of Norfolk Island. His monumental history of Australia’s Special Forces – Warrior Elite – is required reading in the fields of Military Security and Intelligence. His best-selling biography, SAS Sniper revealed as never before the battles against Islamist fanatics. And these are just a few of the highlights among his 28 respected and popular works of fiction and non-fiction.
He has won numerous literary prizes including the 2009 Blake Dawson award for business literature with Peter Thompson for their classic THE BIG FELLA – the Rise and Rise of BHP Billiton. His Kevin Rudd: The Biography was shortlisted for the ACT Book of the Year; and he has won three Critics Circle Awards for his military biographies and histories. He has completed a lecture tour of three Chinese universities based on his works and is presently writing a history of Australia/China relations over the last 200 years.
Queensland born, he has been a journalist at the highest level, a confidant and biographer of two Australian prime ministers; a documentary filmmaker in 32 countries of Asia and the Pacific; and is also political columnist and commentator in the nation’s capital. He presently divides his writing time on fiction, non-fiction and screenplays between Canberra and Tuross Head on the NSW South Coast http://robertmacklin.com