Australia Day. That Most Uncomfortable of Holidays.

Australia Day. Oh, you most horrible and wonderful of celebrations. Wonderful was sitting under the lush trees of the Carlton Gardens, drinking cold cider, reading Vanity Fair, picnicking with my beloved and watching families, couples and friends play bocce, cricket and hand out gingerbread cookies in the shape of Australia.

Horrible was watching our PM and Opposition Leader be dragged ungainfully into cars by rough security, in what amounted to a giant PR and management cock-up. Left-wing pinkos like myself dance Rumplestiltskin-like around Australia Day and Anzac day, confused and repelled by the mastubatory nationalism that has curiously pervaded our culture. To voice concern places one at risk of being labelled treasonous, ‘un-Australian’, disrespectful of the dead. Since the Keating era (when we were encouraged to find security within Asia, rather than from it), our cultural inquiry has steadily degenerated. Howard’s era gave us permission to really let our own personal ‘rednecks in the cupboard’ out to play, wheedling us to nurse our hatred for refugees, migrants, gays, teachers, nurses and academics close to our hearts. Like some kind of dodgy boyfriend your parents warned you about, you quickly found yourself behaving abominably and mimicking his style – he’s given permission to. Now you’ve been behaving horribly for so long, you can barely remember what it was like to be kind and well-mannered.

There are ‘lights on the hill’, still. For those who live in the Greens Melbourne seat, you could well forget any other Australia exists outside of our educated little fish-pond. A quick half-hour on Facebook on Australia Day will put paid to those notions. Again and again, I saw commentary from young people quashing concerns about Australia Day celebrating colonial invasion with noxious sound-bite postings of “if you don’t like it, get out” and “harden the fuck up princess”. This isn’t simply a case of not understanding national identity – it’s a full-force moshpit of revelling in one’s own ignorance and lack of inquiry.

When hearing Paul Keating speak (the pin-up boy of the Labour movement, a bloke of vision we’re unlikely to see again in local politics) at the Wheeler Centre, he made clear the difference between nationalism and patriotism. He declared himself a patriot. Patriotism, said Keating, is inherently inclusive and celebratory. It’s a gathering together, a fond look at achievement. Nationalism – its most dangerous cousin – is at core exclusionary. A tool to divide, to exclude and to categorise.

So how, now, to celebrate? Please, celebrate often – celebrate wildly –  celebrate with gay abandon! We’ve got much to be grateful for, with an incredibly rich creative community and high quality of life. We DO have a national identity. But it’s not one which is singular. I don’t think it’s clad in an Australian flag, BBQ’ing and getting pissed. Not everyone is gathered to the warm bosom of ANZAC’s bloodied soldiers. That story, and the Australia Day landing story – they can’t be our core tales of origination. We’re a migrant nation, and our diverse cultural background can’t be limited to just a couple of tales of colonial subjection and slaughter-for-Motherland.

Be brave. Enquire.

Weddings Parties Anything – Anthem.

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9 thoughts

  1. Fabulous Ioli – love your words thoughts and deeds. My fave retort to the go back to where you came from line is ” we came in planes . . . you came in chains ” if you can’t beat them join them.

  2. It’s great to know young, tech-savvy, media-savvy consultants have a conscience.
    And have a sense of history, and have a sense of what is right and wrong.

    This Australia Day was a disgrace from the dog-whistle politics to the msm-deliberately-misguided frenzy.

    I have informed Poll Bludger of your excellent sentiments.

    Some old farts agree with you.

    Viva enquiry and intelligent dissection of events.

  3. “I don’t know if you’re an old fart however, you’re got too much capacity for self-reflection!”

    Don’t be misled by the msm.

    We “old farts” . . . well that ones with an IQ, have nothing else to do but self-reflection!

    Apparently it is a myth that older peeps become more conservative with age. We, in fact, become more tolerant, especially those not inculcated with religious rage.

    Atheism rulz.

  4. Oh, and we do have kids and grandkids to keep us young and informed, if not to mull (and I use the loosely) over new ideas that are continually thrown up.

    Ahh, keep up the good work.

  5. It has always seemed strange to me the depth of passion that people have for an area of land on our small planet generally delimited by a line on a map and quite often lines drawn by people that don’t and never inhabited that land. Australia is a fine and glorious country with room for so many and an abundance of riches, that is riches in foodstuff, peoples, cultures, ideas and enjoyments. Sadly it has a growing industry in nationalism and not patriotism.
    Why can’t these nationalistic clique (rednecks) understand that our country is made up by a large proportion of people that chose this country as the best in the world for them to live in and the one with the best future for their children and coming generations. They are different from us in a number of ways, as well as their cultures, diets, clothing and in some cases appearance another is they CHOSE this county their patiotism comes from knowing and experiencing worse places to live, the nationalists were born here they never chose this place as the better and have no idea of the conditions that others live under and why they look to such places as Australia for their futures.

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