Australia Day again

By January 20, 2018Other

Richard di Natale, the Federal Greens leader, has managed to capture the holiday news, or at least the Australian politics section of it, with an almost daily cry to find another date for Australia Day, January 26th being apparently offensive to some Aboriginal people, because it signals the ‘invasion’ of their country. Since the Day remembers Governor Phillips’s planting of the flag close to Circular Quay and only the local Aboriginal people were there to observe, I think there is a good deal of specious talk in all this. Moreover, it is entirely unclear what Australia’s Aboriginal people think about the issue. A few have described it publicly  as an irrelevance.

I’ve written quite recently about the insistent demand to change the date, and won’t go over that ground again. But I will add to my musings two thoughts that have flowed from recent discussions. The first is the changing nature of the Australian population. The second is the assertion on my part that there is a great deal to celebrate on January 26th, even if most Australians see it just as another public holiday. The two thoughts are connected.

The current population of our country is edging closer to 25 million. The Aboriginal group comes to around 700,000, most of whom live in cities, and are absorbed into the mainstream of Australian life. More than 20,000 Aboriginal students have graduated from our universities, and a further 15,000 are currently enrolled. The long-term outlook for our Aboriginal people is even more absorption, or ‘assimilation’. At the same time the Australian population they are being assimilated into is continuing to change. It is not the Anglo-Celtic 7 million I can remember from my boyhood, divided by religion and Irishness, but a much larger and ethnically more diverse society.

There are more Chinese in Australia than there are Aboriginal people, and their number can only be expected to grow steadily. The Indian proportion, now about 2.9 per cent, will also grow steadily. Anglo-Celts, broadly defined, are not more than 60 per cent of the whole. The rest are from everywhere, and there are bits of the world’s cultures all around us, a mosque not far from where I live, a Sikh temple and a highly successful Greek social club a few minutes’ drive. Less than half of all Australians today have both parents born in Australia, and a third had both parents born overseas. Australia’s population might be around 40 million in 2050. The debate about Australia Day has to be set in our present and future context. What happened in 1788 is of little interest to most Australians, and I would guess least of all to new arrivals. Historians might puzzle, but that I think is the situation. Calling the arrival of the first fleet an ‘invasion’ is pretty silly, given that Phillip had few soldiers with him, and did his best to placate the Sydney Aborigines he encountered.

There is a good reason for thinking of now and later, rather than of what happened more than two hundred years ago. Australia is a most desired society for many in the rest of the world. Australians have high average incomes compared to most human societies, and our country leads the world (on one measure) in political freedom, is second in the Human Development Index and third in economic freedom. Life expectancy here is the fourth highest in the world. The prospect of a decent life for self and children, given hard work, with little interference either from the state or from the community, another given, makes ‘Australia’ a highly valued target for immigrants.

I have been to several citizenship ceremonies, and the pride and happiness of those who have become citizens are plain to see. Those born here, however, take it all for granted. There is an argument for insisting that all native-born Australians go through a similar ceremony when they turn 18, so that there is at least one moment when they are asked to reflect on their new rights and responsibilities, and where these duties came from. For the new arrivals, as well as for the new citizens, the education of their children is another great plus: the parents value it highly, while publicly-funded schools are available everywhere. When I was in higher education, the proportion of undergraduates who were children of migrants was much higher than the proportion of students whose parents were Australian-born. I would guess that the disparity is still much the same.

Now to my second thought, which is why I value Australia Day. One of my acquaintances has said moodily that Australia Day ‘marks the end of the Stone Age’ in the continent, while another puts a less dour spin on it by referring to ‘the arrival of civilisation’. The virtuous may find those terms offensive, but there is something to them. The Aboriginal people found horses most useful and became skilled at their handling and use, as they did quickly all the other material assets of the English — guns, axes, knives, flour, alcohol — and later on, the four-wheel drive and the smart phone. The Stone Age culture was abandoned as soon as a better alternative was available. Yes, some of its cultural accompaniments linger on, and some are made much of. But no one chooses to live that way now.

The Australia we celebrate on Australia Day was not acquired at the supermarket or ordered online. It is the result of more than two hundred years of hard work by millions of people, guided by what they understood and practised of the English tradition. Every generation built on the work of those that came before, and on every Australia Day we might spare a moment to celebrate those who came before and whose work, of all kinds, allowed us to live in one of the best countries in the world. My generation, whose work covered the second half of the twentieth century, was conscious of the achievements and problems faced by my parent’s generation, whose working life ran from about 1920 to 1970. We didn’t have to deal with a great war or an economic depression; they did.

What do I mean by ‘the English tradition’? First, the rule of law, which is why some English settlers were hung for having killed Aborigines, why billionaire Alan Bond went to jail, and why certain members of Parliament found that they were not in fact entitled to be members of Parliament.

Second, a rough egalitarianism, brought from the British Isles, has meant that after a time it is agreed in any local community that one man (now, one person) is as good as another, as demonstrated in their behavior. The early settlers from abroad were mostly from the working class, whether from England or Ireland, and were not impressed with notions of aristocracy. Over time, egalitarianism led to a strong sense of government as the voice of the people. Australia possesses an electoral democracy that is well understood by its citizens, is not corrupt, is managed by civil servants at arm’s length from the party in power, and generally produces the right outcome (in terms of votes to seats). I wouldn’t be telling other countries that they should use our system, but it has been going for a long time here, and it works.

Third, we have free speech and free press, without which it is hard to have any kind of democracy. There are some restrictions on both free speech and a free press, but in comparison to other countries, we do pretty well. Put all these elements together, and you have a modern representative democracy that works well and provides an excellent environment for its people to pursue their own lives. It is highly creative both in cultural terms and in technology. It is peaceful. It is generous to those who have experienced catastrophe, and it possesses a strong voluntary spirit. That’s what I celebrate.

Does that mean we should sit back and just enjoy things, as though there is nothing left to do? Of course not. There are problems of greater and less moment everywhere. But we deal with them, perhaps not as quickly as some would like. But we deal with them. Sometimes we go too far, as with ‘climate change’, the NBN and the NDIS. But in time our system sorts out the excesses, and then we find we have new problems to deal with On January 26th, raise a glass to those who helped to make this country what it is today, to the benefit of everyone, including our Aboriginal people.




Join the discussion 127 Comments

  • David says:

    Celebrating the 26th of January makes little sense to me, as individuals or a nation. How many criminals do you know who celebrate the first day of their goal term? Most countries in the Commonwealth celebrate the day the British left, not the day they arrived. We should do the same.

    • spangled drongo says:

      Please tell us then, davie, how you can believe a stone age culture that avoided civilisation for so long, was not improved by entering the modern world in arguably the most peaceful, invasion free, way it possibly could?

      And what do you think would have been a more likely better outcome?

      • David says:

        SD, a better outcome would be if we did not celebrate Australia day on the 26th of January, but replaced it with Sorry Day where we could apologize to Australia’s fist people for people like you, Then move the national day to a neutral day like the 1st of September, Wattle Day. Everyone likes flowers.

        And how did getting infected with small pox improve Aboriginal culture.?

        • spangled drongo says:

          Davie, you are not paying attention.

          You are supposed to explain how the Aboriginals, if the British had not settled in Australia, would have ended up better than they are now.

  • David says:

    Scotland do not have a public holiday celebrating any of the dates that English invaded Scotland. St Andrews Day is their national day. If its good enough for Scotland, it is good enough for Australia.

    • spangled drongo says:

      And guess what, davie? The Picts and the Scots were at each other’s throats for thousands of years but because they were the same, genetically, [Celts] they eventually wised up and lived in peace. As with the Irish.

      Don’t mix race with religion.

      In Australia’s situation there were relatively minor skirmishes in comparison and if we had been left to integrate naturally, there would be nothing to discuss.

      Aboriginals have never had a national day because they have never had a calendar but I’m sure you proggies could nut out and justify something “appropriate”.

      As in something much more divisive than inclusive.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Hear! Hear! Don.

    It’s those white, green, pink “aboriginals” that are the problem.

    But they will all be ignored.

    And lose considerable cred in the process.

  • JMO says:

    I will raise a glass of great Australian Shiraz on 26 January. I am so damned lucky to be born in this country. Whenever I travel overseas I always promote Australia as a great country – one of , if not, the best in the world.

    I strongly encourage everyone to buy the Week-End Australian and the next 5 Australian papers to read the six part serial of the First Fleet’s journey, It was NOT an invasion., it bought civilisation and marked the ending of the stone age on this continent. Anyone who advocates the invasion claptrap utterly fails Australian history 101.

    The aborigines are damned lucky that Captain Philip’s fleet started arriving to this continent at Botany Bay on 20 January 1788 and not the French. Once he raised the flag, drank to health of His Majesty King George 111 and the Prince of Wales at Sydney Cove, Port Jackson on 26 January 1788 his vision of a great nation, a place of peace and prosperity began. He declared “There shall be no slavery in a free land” nearly 40 years before it finally was abolished in England.

    I wish the miserable Greens desist their demands to abolish Australia Day and go away, just go away.

    • David says:

      We do not want to abolish Australia, we want to move it. I like the 1st of September, Wattle Day. What could be more patriotic than that?

      • BB says:

        No: Australians celebrate the day civilisation came to Australia. Without it we would not be what we are. Try to imagine Australia without civilisation? It happened to be the 26th you cannot change that you can only deny civilisation. It just was not going to happen by invitation. The belief at the time was that God created the environment and that it was to be used by any people that wished to unless another people were doing so. Hunter gatherer populations do not till the land, raise animals, grow crops, build granaries, and so on. Have a look at the names of those who wish to change Australia Day. Almost without exception they show that our ancestors which they complain of doing the wrong thing are their ancestors also.

      • James says:

        I celebrate Australia Day as in 2007 its the day I became an Australian Citizen.

  • JMO says:

    John, that’s all wishful thinking, I’m afraid.

  • Neville says:

    Don I fully endorse your comments and OZ day should be celebrated without the guilt trip. Ditto to SD’s comment.
    BTW bloggers email addresses are in full view. Why is that the case?

  • Art says:

    It was a good essay, Don. There was also an excellent lead letter in the Oz last Thursday as well as several cheeky ones in the Last Post. I was talking to one of the more rational Greens (oxymoron?) a few years ago who was highly offended when I used the term stone age. Preparing for a flight to the US, she was nonetheless against mining. I asked her if the plane scheduled to carry her was knit from wool.

    OK, the thing that has bothered me a lot during my 47 years here (a Nixon refugee) was the low rate of successful integration of Aboriginal people into the mainstream compared with the migrants from many different societies, many of whom arrived with low educational and economic status. By integration, I don’t mean that they tried to become Anglo-Celts, but rather used their culture to broaden and partially redefine the mainstream. It would seem rational to regard Aboriginality as simply one of the streams that feed our culture rather than a culture apart. As long as the concept of this quasi-apartheid remains, Aboriginal children will be have to work much harder than most to achieve a higher SES.

    I believe that there are two reasons primarily for this. One is the difficulty for providing services for remote communities. The other is that the Aboriginal people have been Disneylanded by the left and the right hasn’t been able to cut through. It is quite disgusting to see the vilification of those Aboriginal people who understand the need to eliminate separate culture. Example? Would it not be kinder to teach Aboriginal Mandarin or Spanish as a secpond language rather than trying to resurrect an ancient language maybe understood by 112 people.

    I find it bizarre that Parliament is the stage for half-naked, body-painted men who supposedly represent Aboriginal culture. Better that they should be dressed in fooball gear or in smart suits worn by fund managers or barristers. The platter would represent the progress of our nation.

    • spangled drongo says:

      Art, if you had arrived a little earlier – before the 1967 referendum on aborigines – you would have noticed them integrating considerably better but all that siddown money in the name of PC and white guilt was too much.

      And it has been all down hill since.

      But we could have had top class tradies and workers who preferred to live out west [as we were slowly getting] but I can’t see this situation ever returning.

      “Progressives” can never let the real world run its natural course. They always know better.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Art, good points all. Just as the ‘ancient’ tartans that Scots wear are largely an invention of the 19th century, so the ‘welcome to country’ and ‘acknowledgment of country’ ceremonies that we have, and the smoking ceremonies, and the whole ‘half-naked stuff’ at any big event are inventions of the last thirty years or so. I would have thought, like you, that the right representatives would be those who have achieved success in this much broader society.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Here is the “aboriginal” woman who wants to fly our flag at half mast on Australia day.

    Does she really believe she is worse off because of those that arrived on 26th Jan 1788?

    Only a Green would be deluded enough to vote for her:

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    “we want to move it”

    Why? Changing the date of Australia Day will not change the symbolism associated with it. It will always be associated with the landing at Port Jackson. How could it be otherwise?

    • Bryan Roberts says:

      Come on,David. Tell me.

      The only way to abolish the association is to abandon the word ‘Australia’. Don’t bullshit about dates. If you want to be proud of wattles, that’s fine, but don’t conflate it with pride in Australia.

    • David says:

      I don’t want Australia Day to be associated with the landing of the British at Port Jackson. None of it makes any sense. As far as the First Fleet was concerned they landed in NSW, not Australia, anyway. And my point about Scotland (and Wales for that matter) is a good one. The Scottish don’t celebrate the arrival of the English with a public holiday, so why should Australia? And Scotland is more “British” than Australia. What the Scottish do have though is a bit of self respect!

      Does Wales have a national holiday celebrating the arrival of King Edward 1st?

      • spangled drongo says:

        “As far as the First Fleet was concerned they landed in NSW, not Australia, anyway.”

        What state would you suggest we use that is in Australia, then, davie?

        And it wasn’t officially called Australia until 1817.

        And the Scots didn’t need delivering from the stone age.

        You haven’t got a clue – admit it – davie.

      • spangled drongo says:

        Davie, the Scots were kings of England before the English were kings of Scotland and the Welsh are the original Britons.

        There is absolutely no similarity to the Australian situation where you had possibly the world’s most advanced civilisation establishing an unchallenged colony in, arguably, the world’s most remote continent.

        With a relatively tiny population of stone-age occupants.

        Unlike today where, because they get so much more taxpayer funding than any other “race”, they increase by around 20% with each census.

        Claiming England “invaded” Australia is simply post-modern-pink-think.

  • Don Aitkin says:

    As readers will have observed, there appears to have been some identity appropriation on this website. I believe I know who is responsible, and if it occurs again the offender will be banned from the site.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      The person responsible has promised to be a good boy.

      • JMO says:

        Oh no another boys will be boys excuse … I can hear the amusement.
        But! … I’m afraid that when I submit this comment JMO will be attributed to it because his name and email have come up.

      • JMO says:

        Your site has a real problem, Don. I’m not JMO but his name and email are in the allotted spaces.

        • Don Aitkin says:

          The website has a problem, and I’m having it fixed. Please don’t use other people’s names and email addresses, however tempting it is to do so.

        • JMO says:

          I did not write the above 2 comments. Whoever is responsible please desist NOW!

    • Chris Warren says:

      It seems fairly simple. Does Australia Day as it currently stands unite us? The answer is clearly, no.
      Let’s think about another day that ALL of us can celebrate as a nation.
      But in the meantime, enjoy invasion day. A day off is a day off.

      • spangled drongo says:

        Especially when you can get overpaid for doing nothing by those very Australians you are criticising and belittling.

        What’s that called, blith?

      • spangled drongo says:

        If you are in any way honest and truly object to the 26th Jan being Aus day, blithluv, why don’t you go to work and refuse payment?


        Just stay home, veg out and cop it sweet.

        What a guy!

      • JMO says:

        Chris, you just failed History 101.

        Please go to the Registrar”s office and apply to repeat the subject.

        Wish you all the best in the new academic year.

        Note: I did write this comment

        • Chris Warren says:

          JMO or whoever you may be.

          The comment you are trying to reply to was not mine.

          I am well versed in Australian history thank you very much.

    • JMO says:

      David, I note the SMH did not mention either of the two very important dates: 9 May – the opening of the Australian Parliament 9 May 1901 or, when Queen Victoria’s Royal Proclaimation on 17 September 1900 the Commonwealth of Australia to start on 1 January 1901.

      I feel either date is beyond the far left SMH’s mental capacity. I would also consider the Wattle Day suggestion as an example of that particular mentality.

      IF the self loathing, PC gone mad, left luny latte miserable Greens get their way and the date has to be changed, either of the above date would get my vote.

      Note: I did write this comment

      • JMO says:

        My father-in-law would roll in his grave if he knew the SMH has turned from well respected broadsheet to a luny left tabloid.
        Note: I wrote this comment.

      • David says:

        Agree a date associated with Federation would also be a good choice.

        JMO, You are clueless. Why do you see an anti British comment as an example of self-loathing. I am not British. I am Australian. I am anti British and pro Australian.

        • Bryan Roberts says:

          In case you missed the point, it will STILL be a celebration of modern Australia, and it will STILL upset some aboriginals and other activists. The Dreamtime was doomed by the march of history, and I doubt that present-day Aborigines really have any regrets. Fussing about the appropriateness of dates is nothing more than Anglo-Saxon self flagellation

          • David says:

            You are still clueless.

            Support for Aboriginal objections to the 26th is not anti Anglo Saxon.

            Was abolition of slavery anti Anglo Saxon?

          • David says:

            In case you missed the point I also think celebrating modern Australia is worthwhile. Just not on Jan 26th.

          • Don Aitkin says:

            Bryan, I am with you, and see below. If there was an invasion (which I dispute) then any date that honours the arrival of the English settlers (mostly convicts and a few marines) will been seen by the activists as tainted with shame and etc.

            Since no one has surveyed the Aboriginal population, my view is that most of them would think all this a storm in a teacup.

            And if there was an invasion, one school of legal thought would have the Mabo decision as wrong because irrelevant. Terra Nullius was based on the notion that the English were settlers, not invaders.

    • spangled drongo says:

      Honest History????

      How is Maoist, communist, socialist blurb like that even faintly history, let alone honest?

      Is that how you taught history, marg?

      Give us a break!

    • JMO says:

      Marg, just go and have a cup of tea, calm down and carry on.

      Sounds like you caught the Jenna Price propaganda drivel.

      I stop reading her when the started an article with these words; “All men are killers”.

      Note: I did write this comment.

  • spangled drongo says:

    An overwhelming 70 per cent of Australians do not want the date of Australia Day changed and only 11 per cent believe it should be moved from January 26, according to a new poll:

  • spangled drongo says:

    Someone made the interesting point that under International law, had Australia been invaded, Native title and Land Rights would not exist.

    Why? Because international law recognises all territories acquired through invasion and annexation by force, prior to World War II, as lawful conquests.

    So, which is it to be?

  • spangled drongo says:

    “This ‘Right of Conquest’ doctrine was first conceived by the International Law Commission of the United Nations and later adopted as UN General Assembly Resolution 3314.

    Provided that all citizens of a lawfully conquered territory are granted equal rights by the local law, international law doesn’t consider the descendants of the conqueror and the conquered as two separate peoples.

    Yet we do recognise separate land rights because the historic Mabo Decision in 1992 rested on the correct presumption that Australia was settled, not invaded.

    In their ruling, Justices Brennan, Deane, Gaudron, Toohey, Mason and McHugh acknowledged that native title could have been intentionally extinguished by the use of government powers, but wasn’t.”

    • David says:

      Here is a list of countries, which Australia is frequently compared to; whose National Day does NOT commemorate the arrival of the English.
      United States
      New Zealand

      Does anyone one know of another country that has a national holiday which that celebrates the arrival of the English? England does not count for reasons that should be obvious, even to you, SD.

      • Bryan Roberts says:

        Dear me, David, you are astonishingly ignorant.
        In the United States, “Columbus Day, which is on the second Monday of October, remembers Christopher Columbus’ arrival to the Americas on October 12, 1492.”

    • David says:

      So according to your logic our National day should be the 27th of May when the Australia finally conferred equal rights of the Aboriginal population.

      • Bryan Roberts says:

        … and could you guarantee that, if the date was changed, the complaints would stop? Of course you can’t, because all of the alternatives acknowledge events of significance to the ‘colonists’ and hence would be ‘offensive’ to the indigines. For heaven’s sake, David, try to learn to live with reality.

        • David says:

          I don’t promise that the complaints will stop.

          The complaints will stop when there is equality of opportunity.

  • Art says:

    I went to hear Warren Mundine at the Sydney Institute last night talking about his new biography “Warren Mundine in Black + White”. He is a student of history and understands that the history of most nations is soaked in blood, conquest and concomitant injustice. Rather than concentrating on past injustice, the future he sees and works for is economic development for Aboriginal people. Despite the humiliations he and his family had to endure pre-1967, he concentrates on opportunities rather than the past. Thus he was deeply scathing about the Greens and other leftist groups and criticised the major parties for not standing up to them.

    He has a lovely sense of humour, a deep love and pride for Australia and is a warm delightful person to chat to. If anyone on Don’s list has a chance to hear him in person, it is time well spent.

    • spangled drongo says:

      Yes, Art, he seems like a lot of aboriginals I knew out west. Very genuine, and lives in the real world.

  • Rick says:

    I appreciate that some people take offence at recognising the arrival of 18th century Anglo culture, but it undeniably happened and it was inevitable. It had both good and bad aspects; I was born in a safety of a hospital in the town of Pinjarra, which was the site of a 19th century massacre. That hospital is available to the current local Aboriginal population just as much as it is to Anglos like me.

    An Australia Day will always be a recognition and celebration of the existence of the nation, which would not exist now without the arrival of a First Fleet of some sort. So whatever date we use, it will still recognise and celebrate the beginning of the end of the stone-age on this continent. The only way to NOT acknowledge this bitter sweet moment is to not have an Australia Day at all, which I suspect is the motive behind the agitation to change the date.

    The political left (predominantly) are simply reverting to the old cultural cringe of the 1960s, when everything Australian was loathsome (how did these people get to label themselves as “progressive”?) They need to come to terms with the fact that all life experience is a mixture of good and bad. The high standard of living enjoyed by nearly all of us came at some cost. If you feel some guilt for your good fortune, you will just have to learn to live with it. It’s part of adulthood for everyone.

    • David says:

      “…we will still recognise and celebrate the beginning of the end of the stone-age on this continent.”

      Only if you are a socio-path.

  • David says:

    I agree with this guy. Starts slow but @ 4 min 30 secs begins to hit is straps.


  • Chris Warren says:

    My name is not Chris Warren.
    My name is Ross.
    I can see Chris’s email and name under ‘make a comment’.
    My last comment was attributed to him.
    Your site appears to be out of control, Don.
    This is serious.
    Shut it down immediately.

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    Ross, attention to detail is the killer, every time.

    • Bryan Roberts says:

      See? lmfao

      • Chris Warren says:

        This is Ross posting under the name Chris Warren. I regretfully do this as I don’t wish other people to know my email address.
        Apologies to Chris, but It was an understanding when posting on this site that email addresses would remain private. I will assume Chris Warren thinks the same way.
        Clearly this is not the case.
        It has nothing to do with ‘attention to details’ Bryan. It is about invasion of privacy and deceit, or incompetence on the part of the site owner.
        Fix it. Apologise. Or close it down.
        Or perhaps you could just supply us with your email address, Bryan. No? Fair enough.

        • Don Aitkin says:

          The easiest thing for me to do is to trash comments like this. I can tell which comments are from ‘real’ commenters, and which are bogus. Just refrain from commenting, Ross, if you are so scared of invasions of privacy.

        • Bryan Roberts says:

 Join the dozens that get deleted every day.

          • Bryan Roberts says:

            To anybody who’s tempted, I don’t read anything from anyone I don’t recognise. I globally delete everything. If I miss something, they’ll find another way of getting in touch with me. I haven’t answered my landline in almost a year, which hasn’t affected my life in the slightest.

  • Don Aitkin says:

    Dear readers and commenters. The website is having difficulty. If you want to make a comment, and you see a dialog box, replace the name and email address with your own. Do not simply send in your comment as though it were someone else’s.

    We are working on the problem, and hope to have it solved quickly.

  • margaret says:

    “Professor Chris Sarra says most of the Aboriginal community will never celebrate Australia Day.”

    Because the date has only been “celebrated” since 1994 and was a direct consequence of the bicentenary six years earlier there is no reason NOT to change the date and I don’t care what other date in the calendar Australia Day is moved to but not the month of January.
    It doesn’t matter that changing the date won’t change the problems that exist for indigenous peoples in remote communities – how could it!?
    It’s symbolic and needs to be inclusive of all Australians even if the first peoples are a small percentage of the Australian population.
    Just as one of the few things, maybe the only thing I liked Rudd for was saying Sorry to the people affected by being taken away from their families.
    Yes there were some who were then brought up by white families who gave them opportunities they would not have had – like Deborah Cheetham opera singer but as she would now say that is not the point. For every person like her there were hundreds who suffered from the callous experience of being torn from their families.
    Now I’m digressing … but I think the 26th January is a Sydney centric celebration that was foisted upon us for no good reason and I would like it to change for the purpose of uniting and making Australians more conscious of aspects of history that have been swept clean.

    • margaret says:

      Having read the essay a second time, no I will not raise a glass tomorrow on those terms.
      I will raise a glass though, conscious of my own understanding and because I enjoy seeing the awards presented to Australians who have made exceptional contributions to humanity.

      • Bryan Roberts says:

        Frankly, margaret, why can’t you celebrate the creation of a prosperous, generally peaceful, and tolerant nation without exhuming allegations of wrongdoing that may or may not have occurred in the dim and distant past. The marrige is over, the divorce is final, and there is no alimony.

        • margaret says:

          “ … allegations of wrongdoing that may or may not have occurred in the dim and distant past. “
          May or may not. That is the reason Bryan – it may not be a quodlibet but frankly, I give a damn – especially when I read pieces by Jacinta Price and see her on television spouting her assimilated, I’m all right now Jack crap.

          • whyisitso says:

            I don’t know whether you are aboriginal yourself. Nowever if you aren’t, your comment about Jacinta Price shows you to be supremely arrogant.

          • margaret says:

            How ridiculous! Whyisitso your comment is supremely arrogant by not explaining why my comment is supremely arrogant.

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    With respect, margaret, it is simply illogical to argue that the present generation should be held responsible for the actions of their ancestors, or that the problems of the present generation are attributable to their ancestry.

  • Chris Warren says:

    Change the date, or rename 26th to “Invasion day” is now an unstoppable social campaign akin to the 1970’s Vietnam Moratorium. Maybe another option could be to have the day’s celebratory events recast to reflect on the real history that was inaugurated from 26 January.

    26 January 1788 is tainted. It marks the start of a savage murderous frontier war between settlers and local tribes that continued even after WW1.

    Within the first year of settlement, after the local tribes told the First Fleeters to go away, some 5 Europeans had been killed and many more attacked when unprotected by marines.

    This is the real meaning of January 26 – this was a commencement of all that was to follow in European-Native relations, from wholesale massacres (for the most part ignored by officials) to poisonings that killed hundreds. When snider and martini rifles became commonplace, by 1870’s, Australian aborigines were subjected to “the system of continual war … being carried on at the present time to utter extermination”.

    Travellers reported places where “the air was tainted with the putrefaction of corpses” “the ghastly remains of the dead blacks, skulls, ribs and thigh bones strewn about”.

    Others argued “The first proceeding when dealing with people of an inferior race, was to put them under foot, then keep them down, and if they attempted to rise, so much the worse for them, for the first principle of British colonialism is the absolute supremacy of our authority”.

    The only way to save Australia Day is to redesign its official events to reflect the true history that entered this continent with the First Fleet.

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    Jonathon Thurston on ABC: “What our culture has endured”, from an extremely rich and privileged footballer, who would still be scratching for witchetty grubs in his original culture.

  • Chris Warren says:

    What really happened – after the First Fleet declared their takeover on 26 January and settlers stormed across the land. [Loads slow – 495 p pdf]

    • David says:

      But don’t you know Australia’s Aboriginal population were so much better off getting the British strain of small pox instead of the French strain of small pox.

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    “settlers stormed across the land”

    Looking for the local Centrelink office?

  • David says:

    CW is correct.

    Celebrating the Birth of the Nation on the 26th of January only makes sense if you accept Terra nullius. And the concept of Terra nullius has been tossed into the waste bin of history, soon to be followed by the celebration of Australia Day on the 26th of January

    • Chris Warren says:

      Aborigines were never part of so-called Australia nor even included as part of the then “New South Wales”.

      Aborigines were on recognized as being citizens of Australia in 1967.

      So the only sensible date for “Australia Day” is 27 May.

      26 January is only an “Invasion Day”.

      • Don Aitkin says:

        Chris, your source is astray, or you misunderstood its message. The 1967 referendum outcome allowed the Commonwealth to count Aborigines in the census, and also to make laws with respect too them (formerly the province of the States). It did not confer citizenship. Any Aboriginal person already able to vote in a State election was eligible to vote in a Federal one. Most Aboriginal people were already ‘citizens’ in that sense.

        • Chris Warren says:


          Voting rights was not relevant to the 1967 referendum.

          The effect of the referendum was purely to ensure, explicitly, that natives were to be included in counting the population. This is evidence of their obtaining new status of citizenship, or at least the same status as others.

          How can you be deemed to be a citizen of a state if they count everyone else but you?

          • Don Aitkin says:

            Dear me, Chris, you do like writing your own history. Many Aborigines were already citizens. The 1967 referendum gave the Commonwealth two new powers — that is what Constitutional referenda are all about. Neither power was about citizenship

          • Chris Warren says:


            There is a difference between “many” aborigines and “all” aborigines.

            There is also a difference between those who are counted in a census as Australia’s population and those that are not.

            For most years after 1788, not all who were born in Australia were included as population of Australia. This lasted until 1967.

            It was changed on 27 May 1967, so this is the only time from where we can say there was the first sprouting of a united Australia.

            So if anyone wants to recognise a day meaningful for “all” Australians, it has to based on the changes of 27 May 1967, not on the unilateral imposition of a British labour camp over 200 years ago and modernist misrepresentations.

  • Chris Warren says:

    How some Austalia business magnates (whose economic interests intrude into Aboriginal rights) want to deal with citizenship.

    Force them out of existance by chemical sterilisation!

  • spangled drongo says:


    Access to this resource on the server is denied!

  • spangled drongo says:

    If I don’t want to say anything it lets me speak.

    What does that remind you of?

  • spangled drongo says:

    I’ll try again….

    Morris, an 82 year-old man, went to the doctor to get a physical.
    A few days later, the doctor saw Morris walking down the street with a gorgeous young woman on his arm. A couple of days later, the doctor spoke to Morris and said, ‘You’re really doing great, aren’t you?’
    Morris replied, ‘Just doing what you said, Doc: ‘Get a hot mamma and be cheerful.”
    The doctor said, ‘I didn’t say that.. I said, ‘You’ve got a heart murmur; be careful.’

  • spangled drongo says:

    See what I mean.

    It must work well for our blith.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Invasion details:

    “When some convicts who had been harassing natives were reported to him, he ordered them to be flogged in front of the tribe. But even Phillip was outdone in humanity on that occasion — the Aborigines, appalled at the brutality, began to whimper and beg for the punishment to stop.”

  • spangled drongo says:

    It seems I have to post tripe before I can comment [which is which, I hear you say]

    A man was telling his neighbour, ‘I just bought a new hearing aid. It cost me four thousand dollars, but it’s state of the art. It’s perfect.’
    ‘Really,’ answered the neighbour. ‘What kind is it?’
    ‘Twelve thirty.’

  • spangled drongo says:

    These are some of my first hand observations of our “dispossessed” Aboriginals:

    Around the far south west of Qld and north east SA the local tribes were thinly scattered to the big waterholes on the Cooper and the Diamantina and while the Duracks, Costellos, their families and connections settled the area in the 1870s, the local aboriginals, because of their small population, maintained their independence for many years after.

  • spangled drongo says:

    At Betoota in the 1950s when I got there, the local tribe had been “myall” much longer than most but now all lived at the station in the huts provided by the station owner and received daily fresh rations the same as the station employees.

    The king and his wife were there as were other elders.

    I used to talk to the king in his hut and he was very old and sad but his wife was very outgoing and happy, always trying to please and you could see she really enjoyed the accoutrements of civilisation.

    The Flying Doctor checked on them all regularly. The young ones were very capable, were mostly employed by the station and enjoyed their work.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Some of them worked part time and still went walkabout but most were happy to live full time in the station huts with their modest conveniences.

  • spangled drongo says:

    These real world Aboriginals were more than happy to admit that they had made a quantum leap forward in living standards while also being perfectly aware of what they had lost in original freedoms.

  • spangled drongo says:

    But they were always honest enough to volunteer that their often very limited bush tucker and sleeping naked in the dirt was not in the same league as rump steak, protective clothing and a comfortable bed.

    Not to mention the special local hospitals provided by John Flynn and other “invaders”.

    The black Aboriginals with first hand experience of this “invasion” did not view it in the same sort of blighted light that their much whiter descendants do today.

    Even though they now have the added benefit of land rights and their huge increase in social services.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Apologies, Don, but I had to split that single comment into five, awa put in other stuff to stop the site from telling me I was verboten.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Compare modern white aboriginals [who are taxpayer-funded to come up with their carefully nurtured hate] with the real ones above:

    “At a rally outside Victoria’s Parliament House on Friday, Ms Onus-Williams, 24, told the crowd: “We have not organised this to change the date. We have organised this to abolish Australia Day because f..k Australia. F..k Australia, I hope it f..king burns to the ground.’’ She later stood by the comments, saying that although they were intended metaphorically rather than literally, she wanted “everything, all the governments to fall apart”.

    Mr Kennett said that while the young activist was entitled to speak her mind and to say what she wanted, it was inappropriate for her to continue with the state government-funded Koorie Youth Council and to sit on any government-funded body.

    “I don’t think it’s appropriate that she continues to serve on the council,” Mr Kennett said.

    “This is something that’s meant to advance the understanding and appreciation of all things indigenous and in saying what she has, she’s shown that she’s totally incompatible with that. I think it’s a case of ‘thank you, but goodbye’.”

  • spangled drongo says:

    From a Chris Warren of Canberra:


    This article sheds new light on the outbreak of smallpox at Sydney Cove in 1789. It draws on local Eora traditions, corroborated by medical and historical sources, as a basis for gaining fresh insights into this event, for reviewing recent literature, and for re-examining several circumstances that could have led to the outbreak. The records suggest that the marines landed at Port Jackson with insufficient manpower and insufficient equipment for the tasks they were to confront. I argue that by early 1789 the colony faced huge difficulties, from the number of indigenous people opposing the settlers, from problems with agriculture, and from the lack of marines’ capability to defend the settlement, that deploying smallpox became a viable option as a means of defence. This article concludes that, on balance, British officials probably spread smallpox as the only means left to defend the colony.

    Is that your work, blith?

    • spangled drongo says:

      ……16 hours later….No answer was the stern reply.

      I wouldn’t admit it either.

      To claim that the Sydney Cove settlement had to resort to smallpox as a weapon to subdue Aboriginals is simply showing your self loathing and does not at all gel with what lonely settlers were able to accomplish without any military or govt support in all parts of the remote outback.

      Quelle science!!!

      But then you can’t help yourself, hey blith?

    • spangled drongo says:

      It’s their blue eyes that captivate our blith:

  • spangled drongo says:


    “A former Northern Territory Chief Magistrate last year told an activist-led Royal Commission into juvenile justice of the horrible neglect of a girl, and gave statistics showing how dangerously few such Aboriginal children were removed.

    She even quoted statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

    “There are many fewer children removed in the Northern Territory, many fewer indigenous children, as compared to the substantiated rates of maltreatment,” she said. “Now these are not allegations, they’re substantiated rates.”

    So how did the Commission treat Ms Hannam’s evidence? Well, they made 13 findings in relation to child protection. But none of them mention that authorities have been too reluctant to act to protect the best interests of the child. Instead, when Hannam had finished telling the commission why reports of a second stolen generation were false, she was met with this response from Commissioner Gooda: “We will disagree on that, and we will pursue that.”

    Perhaps now, after the rape of a two-year-old girl, that pursuit will begin”:

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