It is Australia Day. For the first time, I attended an Australia Day event. I have never supported the notions of nationalism and jingoism that the day implies.
I thought I might attend this year for the simple reason I plan to do more roving reporting for Tableland Talk. I want to attend more community events because I believe sharing and supporting each other is the pinnacle of human endeavour. I also want to acknowledge achievements recognised by the community. But still, I kept changing my mind. I wasn’t going, then I was, then I wasn’t, then I went.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Australia is a great place to live, with many great people. However, although I feel we are fortunate to be here in the land of Oz, I don’t believe for a minute Australians are any better than other members of humanity. We too are subject to human nature. We have the potential to be as good as and as bad as anyone else.
To my mind, a principal strength has been our adoption of other ethnicities and cultures – over time. The shameful treatment of the indigenous community being the glaring exception. Otherwise, I love the diversity and multiculturalism that is largely celebrated here. This should be the real reason to enjoy a national day, not the arbitrary “Australian values” espoused by desperate Conservative politicians.
Our un-revered Prime Minister Scott Morrison tipped me over the line. He provided me with a mode of protest. I wanted to make a statement as a rebuttal of Morrison’s anti-democratic announcement that he would “protect our national day from people trying to skirt the rules or playing politics”. How would he achieve this? By threatening elected local governments considering changing the day of their citizenship ceremonies and insisting attendees adopt a dress code imposed by the Department of Home Affairs.
Australian values or un-Australian, you be the judge. I for one chose to attend the local Australia Day gathering dressed in thongs, shorts and a T shirt. Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone recognised my bold political statement.