Australia Day, an annual celebration of our people. It’s a day when we acclaim the achievements of our citizens, and anoint one as our proudest. Hundreds from all over the globe pledge loyalty to our beliefs and laws. In backyards, parks and beaches we gather with family and friends to enjoy our freedom and our natural environment.
Although the day marks the establishment of the British colony, Australia Day is really a celebration of who we are - a democratic, independent people who value fairness, equality and having a go.
Unfortunately, our Constitution fails to accurately reflect the nation of people that we are, and all that we have achieved.
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It wasn’t hard to get into the pageantry and fun of the royal nuptials. We even made cupcakes with crowns for our token wedding celebration. Our westie mates turned up, resplendent in top hats, medals, even a wedding dress.
Food was anything English: Yorkshire pudding, trifle, cucumber sandwiches and a steak and kidney pie.
My husband rejoiced in his English connections, while I quoted our Constitution which grants the monarch certain governing powers, even above other governing levels.
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Recently News.com.au published an article from Brisbane’s Courier-Mail and a poll calling for the banning of the Aussie sporting war cry “Oi! Oi! Oi!” on grounds that it’s embarrassing.
When I last checked, the yeas were outnumbering the nays two to one and I find that distressing.
I’m not remotely embarrassed to say I love the Aussie Aussie Aussie warcry.
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Not since Australia clinched victory in the 1983 America’s Cup has the Boxing Kangaroo been up for a fight like this.
It might not be Australia’s national flag, but the fighting marsupial is proving to be a rallying symbol of unity ahead of the Winter Olympics in Canada.
Only a few weeks ago, debate was raging about whether the nation’s official ensign, sporting a Union Jack in the corner, was appropriate for a modern Australia. Opinion polls at the time showed we were mostly happy with our flag. This doesn’t mean we don’t have a special place in our hearts for the kangaroo with a KO punch.
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I am concerned at the logic that because some jerks are treating Australia Day the way Liz Taylor treated the institution of marriage that we should get rid of the celebration altogether.
The structures of our society are no better or worse because of actions of a few. Trend is not established by a few data points.
Global warming is not off because of a cold snap in the UK. The monarchy is no more appropriate for Australia because Will seems like a great bloke. And our flag is no more or less appropriate because some people (mis)use it.
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Pride in Australia comes easily to Australians. There’s nothing forced or contrived about the positive feelings we all have for our sun-drenched land or its egalitarian values when thoughts turn to Australia Day every January.
Perhaps it comes a little too easily. Australia Day produces an almost Pavlovian reaction in most of us: instinctive, familiar, warm, but also static and unchanging.
It’s an emotional response, rather like our feelings toward Christmas – we feel before we think. But the things we celebrate on Australia Day are very unlike those we celebrate at Christmas: the national values we celebrate are dynamic, changing, and sometimes confronting.
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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.
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It’s the kind of thing that would get you pelted with stones in the town square in less civilised countries. So as a celebration of our freedoms I’ll say it. Australia Day is a load of rubbish.
And it is increasingly celebrating the worst aspects of our national character, where rather than being a day for thoughtful reflection on our history and our values, it’s starting to look more a half-witted contest to see how much meat you can eat and how much grog you can sink.
This isn’t a wowser’s warning against barbecues and beer. Far from it. I’m a keen supporter of binge-drinking, I’ve never met a meat product I didn’t adore, and I think the likes of NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione and federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon should quit their day jobs and seek formal employment as nannies, such is their enthusiasm for treating adults like babies and criminalising fun.
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This article was written for The Australian ahead of Australia Day last year and is reprinted here.
MICK Dodson invites us - civilly and without a trace of anger - to open a conversation about January 26. It’s an indigenous perspective one can grasp immediately.
Aborigines lived here undisturbed for maybe 60,000 years, until one particular January 26 began their dispossession, and the lesser-known story of their resistance. It has always been my view, though, that we can make this part of the commemoration. After all Anzac Day recalls a tragedy, yet is part of our big story. And we remember it with respect, nonetheless.
Why is January 26 worth celebrating? There are many reasons.
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