Jacinta Price Australia Day piece adds nothing to debate
Letter to the Editor by Merv Welch
A friend, knowing that I had publicly supported the reasoned call by Butchulla Elder Lillian Burke to change the date of Australia Day, referred me to the article headed "Virtue Signalling does nothing to make lives of indigenous Australians safer," by Ms Jacinta Price (The Courier Mail and Daily Telegraph, circa Australia Day).
I think I was supposed to be impressed - perhaps dissuaded from my viewpoint.
On the contrary, I found the article contributed nothing to the debate on the desirability or otherwise of changing the date of Australia Day.
There is almost nothing in the long-winded statement that has any direct connection to the date-change proposal. It is either an accidental, or worse, deliberate attempt to sabotage the debate by "muddying the waters."
Ms Price begins by launching a veritable shoal of red herrings - a litany of the very serious problems faced, especially by women, in Aboriginal communities. These of course are societal tragedies that will not be effectively addressed by "window dressing". But the proponents of the date-change (the "offenderati") have never claimed the move would solve any of them. To mention them is a deliberate distraction from the issue of the date-change proposal.
As is the reference to the somewhat controversial, but long overdue, renaming of a popular brand of cheese. It formerly carried a name which we all know was a term of insult to an Aborigine. But that matter has no relevance here.
Nor does Ms Price's later preaching that we should all have the right to celebrate Australia Day as we please. No one has suggested otherwise. Have they?
And, of course, no one would argue against the need to provide"...genuine help for those who suffer real world disadvantage and trauma." Changing the date would not hinder that process.
Changing the date would, however, cauterise the festering sore of January 26 - the annual reminder of division between white Australians ( newcomers, invaders , call us what you will) and the original inhabitants of the land that came to be known as Australia.
History cannot be changed, nor can it be ignored. And January 26, whether it be 1770, 1788, or indeed any future year, will always signify for the original inhabitants the date of their dispossession and the beginning of more than two centuries of oppression, suffering and disadvantage. And it is not over. It is their right to call it a day of mourning. To celebrate the day is utterly disrespectful and provocative.
Incidentally, the term "offenderati" is a mistake. If such an ostentatious term of contempt is to be used (and it has no obvious merit) it should be"offendedati".
Doesn't run off the tongue quite as smoothly, but is required by both logic and grammar since we proponents of the date change are the "offended" - not the "offenders".
No doubt there will be plaudits for Ms Price for airing the views of many, but her article contributes nothing to the debate on the question of changing or retaining the date on which we celebrate Australia Day.
Merv Welch, The Palms