There is nothing that sums up Australia better for me than the singing of our national anthem.
Here is an anthem with two verses, the second of which – with its mentions of the Southern Cross and boundless plains – is very rarely muttered by any of us.
What a bloody Aussie thing to do – we’re just too lazy to sing the second verse so we don’t bother. I love it.
Next Friday is Australia Day and yet again we are confronted with a loud minority who want to change the date of our national day.
The nutty Greens are more entrenched than ever in the debate, with the party’s out of touch leader Richard Di Natale this week declaring that a date change would be one of his top priorities for 2018.
A top priority? If that doesn’t prove how worthless the Greens are to the political debate in this country then nothing will.
Despite being a ‘top priority’, Mr Di Natale can’t name a new proposed date. Perhaps it’s because in reality this is just an annual attention seeking publicity stunt, nicely timed during a slow news period.
Australia Day is celebrated on January 26 because the First Fleet landed in Sydney Cove on January 26, 1788.
Granted, the displacement of Indigenous Australians caused harm that has lasted generations; the impact of which is still felt today.
But January 26 was hardly an invasion. In fact history tells us it was in the weeks, months and years that followed that hostility grew between the Aboriginal inhabitants and the explorers. Initially at least, relations were generally hospitable, history says.
Some would argue that as generations came and went in an evolving world, Australia became a much better place for Indigenous people to live.
There were awful missteps, corrected along the journey.
But we also created a welfare system entrenched with support and assistance for our Indigenous friends.
We celebrate Aboriginal culture in a terrific way, whether it be through ‘welcome to country’ ceremonies at major events, NAIDOC Week each July or through specific special events throughout any given year.
Changing the date of Australia Day is essentially asking us to re-write history, and any attempt to re-write history is always a dangerous move.
The Greens and those in their corner would prefer we erase history, and live in a bubble where offence cannot be caused and a politically correct agenda rules.
We should never, ever forget our nation’s history or what occurred a couple of centuries ago – it is a very important part of our past.
But by changing the date we essentially are asking future generations to forget.
Changing the date would not only not change the past, but it’d most likely see us stop reflecting on the importance of the date. It would see generations to come not really understand the significance of January 26 and how and why it has different meanings to different people.
Holding Australia Day on January 26 may mean plenty of us have a few drinks and a BBQ, but it also means we reflect on and remember the atrocities the Indigenous population encountered in the years that followed British settlement.
We reflect and remember better than ever before – with traditional ceremonies and strong recognition of the Indigenous population at all official Australia Day festivities and events.
And yes, we celebrate other things that make our country great as well.
We celebrate Australia’s significant place on the international stage. We celebrate our inventions, our high achievers and our world class work in the areas of health, environment and the arts. They are all results of the modern Australia that took its first steps on January 26, 1788.
And we used to celebrate great music until Triple J lost its spine and moved its hottest 100 countdown to January 27 – a date by the way that happens to be International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Moving the date of Australia Day would simply move the party, but fail to retain the strong and respectful recognition of the Indigenous community that goes with it.
We would be far better off if those so obsessed with changing a date on the calendar aimed to find ways to improve the poverty and disconnect that still exists in so many Indigenous communities around the nation. It would have a far more meaningful result.
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor.