The criticisms, indeed attacks on January 26th being Australia Day has already begun proceeding our national holiday for 2019. Charges from groups and individuals state it is offensive to a section of society and that it is quite inappropriate to hold it on the day the first British settlers arrived at Sydney Cove in 1788.
Councils nation-wide, even in Tasmania, have moved their citizenship ceremony from that date, Perhaps many of those Councillors are forgetting that they are there to represent the people as are all politicians and not themselves. They are as our representatives. Those Councils that have forced their opinion on the rest of their municipality have done so without their consent or support. There is an easy way of finding out the mood of the people and that is by a simply municipal referendum on the subject. Of course they would not want to do that as the result most possibly would not go their self-opinionated way. As one who is in favour of Citizens Imitated Referendum (CIR) this is one way to not only to let governments know what the people want but also a way to curb excessive government power and ambitions. That governments and politicians hate the concept means it has a lot going for it.
Back to Australia Day. There are those who say we should have the national birthday on the first sitting of Federal Parliament in Melbourne (May 4). Others say it should be January 1, the date of Federation. Under the previous Gray Tasmanian Government, Tasmania Day was inaugurated November 24, the day Dutch explorer Abel Tasman sighted our island. To have a national day on the date of sighting is unusual. Right across the world national days are usually held on the date of settlement or independence. Hence January 26th is most apt, the day Governor Arthur Phillip, half German half English, set foot on Australia’s shores which was the foundation of the nation.
From that humble beginning near 231 years ago (Jan 26 2019) settlements spread out across the continent. Towns and cities were established, farms and stations developed as did industry. Trade boomed, mining, communication with the coming of the telegraph, education, charities, churches and parliamentary democracy (to name but a few progresses) all occurred within those very first years. Self-governing colonies arose such as Tasmania (1856) just 53 years after Lt John Bowen’s raw settlement at Risdon Cove in September 1803.
Then the nation federated becoming one nation in 1901. Great strides rapidly eventuated with booming cities and centres, freedom of speech and movement, legal protections for the individuals and groups and we can go and on to the point where we were strong enough to fight successfully two world wars despite all their horrors. Post WWII saw a nation where, it would seem, most of the world wished to share our lifestyles and freedoms (although these are under threat from within). We have done something right. We have been successful even though there are those who are among us who criticise everything good about this country. Herein lies a truth; they can do so without any threat of persecution or even gaol. This fact is never admitted by those who wish to change society to their way of preference.
Unpalatable as it may seem to the critics, but a great deal of this heritage goes back to those beginnings of British settlement in 1788. Was it perfect? No it was not, but human nature is not perfect and those who again criticise, look at yourselves…are you perfect? Do you make mistakes? Do you error sometimes badly? Of course you do. Nonetheless, what developed from January 26th 1788 has been an outstanding success.
One must be blunt and again it will be unpalatable for some. The fact of the matter is if the British did not come here in 1788 or to Tasmania in 1803/4 none of us would be here, excluding naturally the full blooded aborigine; the government in Canberra would not be here (nor in Hobart), nor local government, none of our institutions; I would not be here (happy for some I suppose), our cities would not be here and so on, but perhaps one can get the point.
What occurred January 26th was the foundation of our nation. From that date developed, albeit slowly at first, then very rapidly a nation which is the envy of the world. For me, I would not have wanted it any other way. Those who have come to our shores know and appreciate this fact. Very few of our new arrivals are calling for the abolishment of our national day or for the abolishment of our national institutions, symbols and traditions. The call for change come from a very well-oiled and funded (mostly with tax payer’s money), often over educated with plenty of time on their hands.