What price Australia Day?

by ray goodlass

My Op Piece in Wagga’s DA today, based on Captain Abbott’s spectacular own goal of knighting a foreign aristocrat  may arouse some responses from the True Blue set as I used it to ask some questions about Australia Day. Indeed, a good friend said it would offend just about everybody, and if so, so be it, for I thought it about time we revisited the issue of Australia becoming a republic, and whether 26 January, being ‘Invasion Day’ to many, is the best day to celebrate Australia. I guess we’ll see.

I also managed to squeeze Climate Change into the 500 words I’m allocated

Here’s the full text:

Knighthood for Philip  

That our Prime Minister, the self-styled Captain Abbott, has scored a very embarrassing own goal by knighting Prince Philip, would not be worthy of a column of its own, but it does provoke some reflection about Australia Day.

This is not in any way to argue that we should not celebrate Australia Day, for our fortunate nation has indeed much to celebrate.

The knighthood to Prince Philip has thankfully been resoundingly condemned, so I don’t need to add to the chorus, but instead I’ll note that many have pointed the finger of blame at Peta Credlin. Isn’t it interesting how quick people are to blame a strong woman? A real sense of déjà vu here.

And regrettably the Australian of the Year award to Rosie Batty has been lost in the uproar.

The wider issue, that imperial honours (Knights and Dames) based on inherited titles are not appropriate in this day and age is also a valid point. Like most Australians, I regard the Order of Australia as all we need to honour those who have given outstanding service

Now, on to other, much wider issues, provoked by Australia Day. The first of these is the Republic question, as the leader of the opposition Labor party, Bill Shorten, has said Australians should make a fresh effort to declare their country a republic.

“Let us have the courage to ask ourselves if we measure up to more than just a grab-bag of clichés,” he said. “Let us declare that our head of state should be one of us.”

Also worth a national debate is whether or not the 26th January is the most appropriate day for our national day. At a relatively trivial level is the question of whether the establishment of a convict colony in Sydney in 1788 is something to be proud of, but of much more importance is the fact that for the indigenous population of Australia it marks an invasion of their ancestral lands.

Not everyone will agree, but I think a debate is necessary and certainly won’t hurt. What is a more appropriate date is a complex issue, but perhaps it could replace the Queen’s Birthday public holiday.

And whilst all the Australia Day hoopla was distracting us all the newest CSIRO Climate Change report was released, which contained dire projections for Australia. Thank goodness Greens leader Christine Milne’s office was on the ball enough to notice and bring it to our attention.

“These projections are not based on the findings at the bottom of a teacup; they are the work of Australia’s top scientists, incorporating observations of global warming that has already occurred.

“Addressing global warming means moving to 100 per cent renewable energy as quickly as possible. It means opportunities in renovating existing infrastructure and building new homes to new standards of resilience in the face of more extreme storms and heat “said Senator Milne.