Our national day. The day we remember that small fleet of ships that sailed into Sydney Harbour, never suspecting that they had found the birthplace of airborne football, the black box, and the Hills Hoist.
It just wouldn’t be Australia Day without a few messages from the faction of the permanently disaffected.
The headline says Wayne Swan reignites republic debate. Which gives Swanny’s declaration far more impact than it deserves. The reiginition was stifled by a collective yawn – as Billy Joel would say, Wayne didn’t start the fire. And that fire is not likely to start any time soon, as I explained here.
Our national flag is another inevitable target of criticism on Australia Day. Red white and blue are not colours associated with the Australian landscape, but the fact that we share then with the United Kingdom and the United States is to me symbolic of the links between the nations of the Anglosphere. The flag’s detractors complain that our flag is not distinctive; but we know our own, and we know the history that it represents. And there are a great many flags around the world that resemble other flags. Take the Indonesian flag, for example.
A simple design of red over white. Are we to infer from it that Indonesia is just a wannabe Monaco?
Or are the former Dutch East Indies a place where a great many Poles landed on their heads?
It’s become fashionable among the conspicuously compassionate to refer to Australia Day as Invasion Day. Whites arrived uninvited and took the land from the natives. Again, as with the flag, it is as if this has never occurred anywhere else. The story of humanity abounds with tales of conquest; if the British had not claimed the east coast, someone else would have done so. In fact, the First Fleet was visited just a few days after its arrival by a French expeditionary fleet led by the Comte de La Pérouse.
The Invasion Day chorus implies that The Great South Land would be untouched today if it wasn’t for those dratted Poms. Typically detached from the realities. If not London, or Paris, then Madrid or Lisbon or Amsterdam would have annexed the continent – indeed, the west coast of Australia was originally known as New Holland. This year however there was little said about invasion. This silence can be attributed to the ‘invasion’ perpetrated by Jooolya, AWPME, when she dumped a long serving Senator from top place on the ticket and replaced her with an indigenous celebrity candidate.
Negative reaction has been widespread:
Hard to see what greater good the Peris-Kneebone switcheroo does Australia, or Labor, or, frankly, Gillard. Once more she is shown to have been ungrateful, secretive, disloyal and smart-arse.
And that’s from someone on Jooolya’s side of the political fence.
Jooolya’s act would have been condemned as tokenism had Tony Abbott tried it on. It’s worth mentioning at this point that the Liberal Party is well in advance of Labor when it comes to indigenous representation in Parliament: Neville Bonner, the first Federal MP who was Aboriginal, was first elected in his own right in 1972. Nova Peris wasn’t even a member of the Labor Party when she got the PM’s call. Jooolya made her priorities pretty clear when she said that it was time her party had an indigenous member of parliament. But her options were not exactly limited. Several indigenous members of the ALP with actual political experience could have been approached. Peris may recoil from suggestions that she’ll be the house maid but she can hardly expect to wield the cred of the alternative picks.
The Northern Territory branch of the ALP, steamrolled by head office, will not submit without a fight. And only a few days before the announcement Jooolya was getting a tongue bath from a radio interviewer on her negotiating skills.
The fallout from the Peris appointment is pure Jooolya spectacle. Again and again she alienates her own side and gives free ammo to her opponents with decisions that are manifestly ill-considered. Again and again AWPME has begun to regain some ground against Opposition Leader Abbott, then sent herself hurtling back down the slope with a move that a blind halfwit would recognise as dangerous.
Post the election, I would hope that the Droner from Altona will offer herself to the world of psychology. Such a special gift for political self-destruction ought not go unexamined.