Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Opinion

Study postgraduate law: the ANU Juris Doctor

Oz Day – mixed emotions

By John Hargreaves - 30 January 2017 10

Bonegilla

I reckon this year’s Oz Day brought more commentary and diverse opinion than any other, at least in my awareness.

We had heavy discussion and demos around the indigenous people’s issue with this particular day. Some calling it Invasion Day and others getting upset because the first peoples were conquered and they had just better get over it and move on.

Some suggested that to respect the invasion theory and the denunciation of the terra nullius theory, we should move the date. Perhaps to February 7th or some other day which has more to do with the proclamation of the settlement in the name of Mad King George (King George IV, for those in the monarchist camp).

Some say 1st January cos that’s when we came into being as a nation instead of a number of colonies. But we get that day off anyway!

I heard a great reason to change the date just yesterday. The idea is that where a particular date has a negative connotation for whatever reason, that date should be avoided. Instead, any other date will do. Just as HM the Queen’s actual birthday is in April we still celebrate (or for others who say, don’t like the Queen but like the holiday) her official birthday in June. Weird.

What does Australia Day mean to you?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

We also had much discussion about asylum seekers and how the Trumpster is going to derail the deal to take our 1200 prisoners from Manus Island and Nauru in exchange for asylum seekers in Cost Rica. But the essence of this discussion is disturbing.

It goes like this. You can’t come to Oz if you have travelled from your country of persecution through a third or more countries and arrive by leaky boat. But we can ship you off to some other countries like Cambodia in exchange for aid to Cambodia or the US in exchange for refugees in Costa Rica. But not to New Zealand who didn’t put any strings on the transfer.

But hang on! Didn’t the refugees in Costa Rica go across the seas through a third country only to be imprisoned for seeking refugee status? I don’t get the difference, unless it is Islamophobia, which may explain the Trumpster’s reluctance to have our refugees.

So we have these far-right groups getting upset at the electronic billboard at the Canberra Theatre because the Aussies depicted are wearing hijabs. And they threatened to burn the place down. With such violent thoughts aren’t they being a bit hypocritical in suggesting that Muslims are all terrorists?

But when you look at Oz Day, apart from the Aussie of the Year knees up, what is the most significant ceremony across the nation? Citizenship ceremonies. Hello! We welcome people from across the lands who become new citizens and bring such richness and colour, cuisine and culture to our already polyglot nation.

I used to have the honour of bestowing citizenship, when I was Minister for Multicultural Affairs and it was the best job in all my 15 years as a pollie. Let me tell you that Anglo names were generally in the minority. We had Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Maori, Swedish, Russian, Italian, German, Chilean, Peruvian, Brazilian, Argentine, Somali, Kenyan, Ghanaian, Indonesian, Malaysian, with a smattering of Poms, Irish and Yanks. Oh… the occasional Canadian as well. I haven’t covered them all but you get the gist.

Back to the Aussie of the Year knees up, did you see that an AC went to that Welsh immigrant, Julia Gillard, and that that Scottish screamer Jimmy Barnes got a gong. I always check the list to see who I know got a gong. Like Paul Walshe, a great bloke and a generous one too. Great family of givers not takers and most deserved!

So, when I looked at this year’s list, I noticed the number of non-Anglo names. People who made Oz their home either because they were refugees from persecution (or their parents were) or poverty (and many of us hit that bell). They have all contributed to making Oz a better place than they found it. Yeah well this is just the start of a theme.

How about these names for leadership in Oz? Anastasia Palaszczuk (Premier of Qld), Gladys Berejiklian (Premier of NSW), Hieu Van Le (Governor SA), Lia Finnocchiario (NT Parliament), Nazih Elasmar (Vic Parliament), Antonio Krsticevic (WA Parliament), Michelle O’Byrne (Tas Parliament), and even Elizabeth Lee, Steve Doszpot, Elizabeth Kikkert, Michael Petterssen from our own ACT Legislative Assembly.

Even that anti-hero Tony Abbott was born in the UK.

But also recognise that we have indigenous members of parliament and ministries, so the Anglos don’t have a mortgage on good governance. We had Chris Bourke, fed Labor has Linda Burney and the fed Libs have Ken Wyatt. The NT has had a lot of indigenous ministers in the past.

So, I guess my plea is to celebrate the diversity of our peoples, recognise and honour the first peoples, accept that nasty things were done to them by our political forebears and encourage our kids to see the inner person not the outer skin colour or the religious garb.

And back to the asylum seekers for a minute, the duplicity and hypocrisy is gobsmacking! All for the sake of 1200 souls who had the temerity of asking us for help. It is not unlawful to seek asylum but it is unlawful to imprison people who haven’t committed a crime. The Chief Justice of the PNG Supreme Court ordered the camp on Manus Island to close. The Oz gumment says, Oh! OK! And has done nothing since. Three years in a prison for trying to seek a safe life, free from persecution and death! What crime do you need to commit to get three years (and counting) in an Oz jail?

But anyway… On the date of Oz Day… There is a day where only the good happened. 22nd August! The birthday of my darling wife, who was born in Canberra Hospital of an English migrant mother and who had the good sense to marry a migrant, who came to Oz in a boat.

What’s Your opinion?


Please login to post your comments
10 Responses to
Oz Day – mixed emotions
1
Blen_Carmichael 7:56 am
30 Jan 17
#

“Perhaps to February 7th or some other day which has more to do with the proclamation of the settlement in the name of Mad King George (King George IV, for those in the monarchist camp).”

Try George III.

Report this comment

2
dungfungus 9:34 am
30 Jan 17
#

“Didn’t the refugees in Costa Rica go across the seas through a third country only to be imprisoned for seeking refugee status? I don’t get the difference, unless it is Islamophobia, which may explain the Trumpster’s reluctance to have our refugees.”

I wish you would do some research before making these sort of wild assumptions.

According to World Data, 2,169 asylum applications by refugees were received in 2015 in Costa Rica. Most of them came from El Salvador, Colombia and from Venezuela. A total of 793 decisions have been made on initial applications. Which were around 30% answered positively. 70 percent of asylum applications have been rejected in the first instance. Most successful have been the applications of refugees from Ukraine and from Nigeria.

Islamophobia? Come on John, give me a break!

Report this comment

3
chewy14 10:21 am
30 Jan 17
#

“But anyway… On the date of Oz Day… There is a day where only the good happened. 22nd August! The birthday of my darling wife, who was born in Canberra Hospital of an English migrant mother and who had the good sense to marry a migrant, who came to Oz in a boat.”

On the 22nd August 1770, Lieutenant James Cook hoisted the British flag on Possession Island off the Queensland coast and claimed the entire eastern coastline of Australia as British territory by the name of New South Wales.

The irony is delicious, you couldn’t have highlighted the folly of looking for an alternate date that wouldn’t offend anyone better if you tried.

Report this comment

4
Mysteryman 1:06 pm
30 Jan 17
#

Australia is the wonderful nation that it is because the British landed here on the 26th of January, 1788. That was the turning point in history from which this nation, as we know it now, was built. Yep, some awful things happened in the 200 years **after** that day, but that would be true of ANY day that was chosen as the date to celebrate. We could move the date to January 1 in anniversary of the date of federation, but people could just as easily complain that a federated Australia is responsible for the White Australia policy and therefore the date of federation shouldn’t be celebrated. The reasoning for changing the date just isn’t sound.

The fact remains that as a nation we’ve done some amazing things, and some awful things. We shouldn’t forget either. But moving the date of celebration won’t change anything, or appease anyone, much the same way that issuing a national apology didn’t bring reconciliation despite proponents claiming it would. Moving Australia Day to any other date will still result in people being upset that a wonderful country was built on land taken forcibly from it’s inhabitants; despite nearly every other country on the planet being built in the same way.

Report this comment

5
dungfungus 1:35 pm
30 Jan 17
#

Mysteryman said :

Australia is the wonderful nation that it is because the British landed here on the 26th of January, 1788. That was the turning point in history from which this nation, as we know it now, was built. Yep, some awful things happened in the 200 years **after** that day, but that would be true of ANY day that was chosen as the date to celebrate. We could move the date to January 1 in anniversary of the date of federation, but people could just as easily complain that a federated Australia is responsible for the White Australia policy and therefore the date of federation shouldn’t be celebrated. The reasoning for changing the date just isn’t sound.

The fact remains that as a nation we’ve done some amazing things, and some awful things. We shouldn’t forget either. But moving the date of celebration won’t change anything, or appease anyone, much the same way that issuing a national apology didn’t bring reconciliation despite proponents claiming it would. Moving Australia Day to any other date will still result in people being upset that a wonderful country was built on land taken forcibly from it’s inhabitants; despite nearly every other country on the planet being built in the same way.

“…..federated Australia is responsible for the White Australia policy……”

I recall that it was the Labor government of the day that was responsible for the White Australia Policy but I am receptive to there spin that may contradict that.

Report this comment

6
Maya123 1:37 pm
30 Jan 17
#

I don’t care what day Australia Day is, or even if there is an Australia Day. I would be happy if the day were drawn randomly from a hat. (After any days already claimed by other holidays and any other days deemed unsuited were excluded (explain why this is). Maybe exclude the days too near another holiday too.) At least then the day Australia Day was celebrated would be a fresh day and free from any particular group’s prejudices. A completed random day.

Report this comment

7
Futureproof 5:47 pm
30 Jan 17
#

History’s pages are full of information on nations conquering another. That’s how it is. You can chose to be bitter and twisted, or live with the fact that we live in the greatest country on earth. If you want history changed, perhaps go back in time (several hundred years) and remove The First Fleet from the 1700s and insert Genghis Khan from his time of plunder and executions.

Report this comment

8
Masquara 7:57 pm
30 Jan 17
#

Objecting to the hijab is not reactionary. It’s feminist. The problem with those billboards, while their spirit is delightful, is that they depict small girls in “modest” headgear (and they will be wearing wrist and ankle length dresses) that is not required of little boys. By all means, adult women can choose to wear Muslim headgear if they wish, but insisting that small girls wear it is oppressive.

Report this comment

9
RichPoetry 10:13 am
02 Feb 17
#

Quite clearly there is an element in the population unhappy with the Australia Day date for understandable reasons. The question then is to find a day that would be more inclusive of all Australians. This is a very difficult task. Perhaps a competition should be held and the winner awarded a special Oz medal for bringing the population together as one happy family. I am not a geologist but I do know that many years ago there was a great landmass of which current Australia was part. Now if we can investigate a critical day when this mass split up (and presumably New Zealand decided to go its own way) then perhaps that day would be most suitable to all concerned and hopefully satisfy the numerous sensitivities in our population.

Report this comment

10
Chris Mordd Richards 11:23 pm
02 Feb 17
#

RichPoetry said :

Quite clearly there is an element in the population unhappy with the Australia Day date for understandable reasons. The question then is to find a day that would be more inclusive of all Australians. This is a very difficult task. Perhaps a competition should be held and the winner awarded a special Oz medal for bringing the population together as one happy family. I am not a geologist but I do know that many years ago there was a great landmass of which current Australia was part. Now if we can investigate a critical day when this mass split up (and presumably New Zealand decided to go its own way) then perhaps that day would be most suitable to all concerned and hopefully satisfy the numerous sensitivities in our population.

How about we sign a treaty acknowledging indigenous sovereignty of this land, as they want and are entitled to, then change it to the date that is signed? Because white people will object then to it being on a day we recognise aboriginal sovereignty? Well that’s how they feel about ‘Australia Day’ right now.

Report this comment

Related Articles

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top
Copyright © 2017 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.

Search across the site