All things Australian according to Punch readers
After a week of fiery debate that covered everything from our right to a national holiday and whether we should be a republic to what we’d like on our flag we can be sure of one thing: we can’t agree on any of it.
Scroll down to see a collection of twenty or so comments from Punch readers on all of these contentious topics. But whatever you end up doing today we hope you’ll stay safe and have fun.
All those in favour include:
Aussie Gal 83: Don’t be a such a hater. There’s nothing wrong with the kiddies draping themselves in the Aussie Flag - they are proud of where they come from and that’s just their way of expressing it. Maybe if the schools had a better Australian History curriculum, then they would know a little bit more about what happened when this country was first colonised. I suppose you’ll be sitting in your living room with Manning Clarke’s ‘A Short History of Australia’ reading about Arthur Philip’s great convict voyage and landing on the Great South Land then will you Penbo?
Randal says: Jacqui the point of Australia Day is to celebrate the creation of one of the true democratic and free nations on earth. A nation that from the arrival of the first fleet has been cut out of one of the harshest continents on earth. A nation built upon convicts, free settlers and immigration, and that is now beginning to embrace the rich culture of its indigenous population (although much more is needed to be done). That is what Australia Day represents, it allows the population to reflect or not, on the short history of this great nation and the way this is done is to allow the population freedom to choose, whether it’s attending Australia Day events, a BBQ and few drinks with family and friends, a day watching the cricket or the tennis or any other endeavor people choose… that in itself makes Australia Day the celebration of freedom that it should be. If a minority over indulges or get out of line and begin to affect the rights of others to celebrate their own freedom, then we have the authorities to step in take control and remove these freedoms from those who perhaps have developed a true lack understanding for a few hours in the drunk tank. It is not up to the ‘do-gooders’, the government or even the great ‘Penbo’ to cause change to force people to view this day any differently, it is a day of choice, celebrate or do not celebrate, either way you are embracing Australia Day as that is the great gift of this nation, the right to choose how we live our lives, that is what freedom is all about.
Roy McKeen says: But how Australian are we?The Australian Constitution is a mere schedule in an Act of the British parliament. The Australian head of state has always been a foreigner. The Australian flag is dominated by a foreign flag. There was no such thing as Australian citizenship until 1949. It was not until 1973 that Australian passports were issued. So we can hardly claim to have a patriotic history. A few things need to be done. We need an Australian head of state. We need a flag that says “This is Australia’s flag”. We need a Constitution for the 21st century conceived, grown and given birth in Australia. We need a new date for Australia Day. Many great nations celebrate their national day on anniversaries of momentous events. The national day of the USA is held on July 4 to celebrate the date on which the Declaration of Independence was adopted. In France Bastille Day is celebrated on July 14 because on that date in 1789 the people of Paris stormed the Bastille and their republic was born.The new date for Australia Day is still in the making. We must wait. We must wait until we have thrown off the last shackles of colonialism and are seen to have achieved complete independence. The new date for Australia Day should be the date on which we vote to become a republic. Whether we celebrate the new Australia Day with BBQs or quiet thoughtfulness is up to each and every Australian. But celebrate we will as a free and independent people confident in our national identity as Australians not, as we currently are, South Pacific Poms. Until that new date arrives we will just have to put up with January 26.
John V says:To me Australia Day is just another public holiday to see all your friends who are usually too busy. I don’t want to get bogged down thinking about how we got to be here. I like the minute silence on ANZAC Day, I think it’s pretty much embraced across the board. Perhaps they start the tradition of playing and singing the anthem at 12. Flag drapers and people with Southern Cross tats will always exist, but can be ignored pretty easily. I think they’re just part of Australia, whether we like it or not. I’m going to head to an annual cricket match, probably stick to plenty of water and no doubt will enjoy a stack of meat, but I tend to do that at least a couple of nights a week. I don’t know how Australian it all is, but I am Australian and it’s what I like to do. I think we should be able to enjoy Australia Day however we see fit, I see no need to question it.
letthemeatmeat says: I think the vagueness of the day is the whole beauty of it. Why should there have to be a set course for every public holiday? Consider this - maybe thats exactly what makes it Australian - everyone gets to interpret and celebrate being Australian the way in which he or she wants. Now how Australian is that! So I say - let them eat meat!
Beer says: On Australia day i’ll do what i want, if you don’t like how i celebrate being free in a free country, well then shuffle your arse off to North Korea (i’ve heard their national day is a hoot).
James Allen says: Australians are free to celebrate our day anyway we see fit. Chilling out around a barbie with some beers is a great way to reflect on the great country we are lucky to be a part of. Why does there ALWAYS have to be boring, PC style analysis and self-loathing attached to anything Aussies choose to do? Typically, you could not help yourself with a sly dig at the British in regards to our beautiful flag. Its OUR flag and was chosen and designed by Australians. It is hilarious how people like you decry our lack of history and culture - then constantly want to trash it and re-write it! Whether you have a problem with the British or not - the facts are that they, founded, set-up and have been by far the greatest influence on the fabric of Australian life. Our law, stability, democracy, culture (yes we have one), humour, pub culture (almost unique to UK and us) is because of them. Surely we can at the very least honour our founders by allocating a little square of cloth to them? The Union Jack is a fantastic iconic symbol and I know a lot of people (many of them young like me who have done the London thing) never want it removed! Whats wrong with linking us to our great mates?
King Parrots says:People get over it, there is nothing better then a VB CAN and a snag.
And, all those against…
David: You had me at Coopers..
Poseidon says: Maybe patriotism is just a bit dorky after all. I miss the days when the singing of the national anthem was drowned out by the screaming of a football crowd eager for the game to begin. Then the anthem was the national institution getting in the way of fun. My skin crawls when I see Seppo type displays of patriotic fervour hand on heart my country right or wrong bulldust it is unAustralian. Don’t be guilty about displays of patriotism be embarrassed.
Ben says: Anyone who chants Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi needs kick in the butt. If there is one thing that makes us look and sound like brain dead idiots to the rest of the world (and at home) that’s it. You would probably class me as a bogan, but even I think that chant is cringe worthy. Surely we can come up with a better chant than that!! It can’t be hard…
Margaret Gray says: Well done James. It’s nice to think the elitist flagellation that scars so much of our national conversation daily could be checked for a full 24 hours. Sadly, I doubt it. Australians used to be globally regarded as laconic, easy going and abiove all good fun. All positive aspirational virtues. Lately, we have become so earnest and dull? Why is that?
Simon says: To all the nay sayers out there I have one question. Why must we spend our lives ridden with guilt about the sins of our forefathers? Sure some of it was awful, but wallowing in miseries past is not helpful. I’d prefer to be a tad more optimistic about things, sure we’ve made mistakes, but we learn from them and move on. What happened in the past can stay in the past. Why must you feel the need to continually throw it in our faces. The way some people carry on about our history, its like we are the only nation that has made errors. However as James pointed out in his article, we are not alone. All nations of the world have made mistakes. What defines them is how they learn from it and move on. The key point being they move on. Trying to make people feel guilty about things that were out of their control is counter productive and is less likely to persuade people to see your point of view.I frankly refuse to made to feel guilty. I refuse to feel embarrassed about feeling pride to be part of this great nation. So celebrate people. Be thankful you live here and are apart of the ongoing story of this country.
Alex says:Come on Aussies, be proud of this great nation. Let’s get caught up in frenzy of national flag waving pride. You deserve it!!! I am so proud of Australians, getting whipped into a frenzy over Prince William’s Royal Visit. I am so proud that the plight of indigenous Australians living in third world conditions is considered so important that it barely registers a hint of concern among the masses. I am so proud that in what is probably the world’s worst natural disaster in history, Australians are focusing on Prince William instead of the plight of the people in Haiti. Where is the huge outpouring and fundraising effort this time? Perhaps because it is a third world country it is not worthy of our attention. Let’s face it, why raise money for people that had nothing to begin with. Yes, let’s be proud that we had the good fortune to be born in a country where people take everything for granted…where they can get on radio to complain about the trains being late or that their air conditioning is not working. It is sad to think that our Australian lives are valued higher than those less fortunate, purely based on wealth and geography! I suppose now I am going to be branded “Unaustralian” for this point of view.
mg says: Penbo said it better. The sooner we get rid of this weird Yank style patriotism the better. The sooner we take Australia Day for it really is the better - stow it away as just a holiday and nothing else.
I love Australia, but I think the ills of blindfolding the nation and proclaiming what a great nation it is and the fact that the originees had their land stolen (and never recognised properly) make me kinda embarassed to be Aussie sometimes. These twats who drape the Aussie flag everywhere and say it is all about celebrating being Australian, should really be shipped to Texas where they would fit in better. Celebrate for sure, but let’s celebrate the fact that in the next few years, the sovereign people of this country will reset the balance - and Australia will become what it truly is - a nation of people who care for the country (the land), believe in sharing our histories and who will not need a figurehead to pretend to tell us what is going on (do YOU know what is really going on?).
Johnny says: This is not an either/or question. I can celebrate my country and it’s countrymen while reflecting on what Australia needs to continue doing to grow as a nation. I like a beer as much as the next man… but I don’t switch off the brain when the ring is pulled on Jan 26th. I don’t wallow in self pity, but I don’t also go around saying how we’re totally awesome and our history is clean and without reproach. Australia Day is not only about celebrating where we have come from, it’s about where we are heading. You put the blinkers on the horses in the Melbourne Cup, not the citizens of this land.
stevie p says: Totally agree - I’m over the moronic half witted, backs to the wall outpouring of nationalistic fervour that we always seem to have to trot out as if no -one else in the World exists. Heaven help us if we actually lose the one-day international on Australia Day, that Lleyton isn’t there pumping his fist into an imaginary opponent lying on the floor while the fanatics drape themselves in the national flag. No you are right, there is a hell of a lot wrong with the way this day is celebrated and who and what it stands, or doesn’t stand for.
Aussie says: Americans, the most (annoyingly) patriotic people I have met do not have an ‘America Day’, but they do have holidays that celebrate and recognise important events in their history, which give their holidays a focus and true meaning (much like our ANZAC Day). Given we are a society that lacks the cultural richness of other nations; what it means to be Australian is actually not too clear and difficult to express. We don’t really dance, we don’t traditionally sing, we don’t have rituals (& we certainly have not embraced Aboriginal traditions)... in some ways it is nice, because we can and often have embraced traditions from other cultures, but I can see that all we really have as ‘Australians’ is beer and BBQs. For goodness sake, we still celebrate a ‘white Christmas’ in 40 degree heat. WHAT THE…? Why haven’t we made this our own yet (don’t start me on why we only celebrate Christian holidays…)? We should be thankful for our way of life every day and celebrate our country and diversity by displaying tollerance and acceptance with those who are fortunate enough to be sharing our way of life beside us, regardless of their history/race/religion. Toting the flag mindlessly one day a year does, in my opinion, just cause trouble (but then, I live in ‘The Shire’ where alcohol fuelled racial violence is a certainty on ‘Australia Day’). I would NEVER go out on 26 Jan if I wasn’t a caucasian & I pity those who look ‘different’ (although we are all different!!!) & are targetted by close-minded ‘Aussies’. Pfffff. But you can’t necessarily just blame them - what exactly ARE we supposed to be celebrating??? It’s confusing.
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