16 January 2015

It's time to re-think and re-brand our "national day"

It's mid-January, the lamb barbecue ads are back on TV and the stores are filling with tacky green-and-gold merchandise once again. But from a brand authenticity perspective, celebrating something called "Australia Day" on the 26th of January is ever more irrelevant and insulting with each passing year.

That date marks the proclamation in 1788 of a British penal settlement on Port Jackson in the area known as New South Wales... and the dispossession of its indigenous owners. Australia was NOT "established in 1788" as the T-shirts assert. In fact, the name "Australia" wasn't even officially adopted for the continent until it was suggested by explorer Matthew Flinders and approved by the British Admiralty in 1824. And the nation we know as "Australia" didn't come into being until Federation on 1 January 1901, when it also gained independence from Britain after decades of political lobbying by early national statesmen like Henry Parkes and Alfred Deakin.

The bottom line is that the 26th of January is completely unrelated to the history of our modern nation - it commemorates only cruelty, injustice, colonialism and dispossession. It has nothing to do with nationhood.

It should be consigned to history, along with rum rations and the lash.

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