Australia flag.
Australia flag.

'Why we should NOT change the date of Australia Day'

HONESTLY, these "days" come around so quickly. First it was Melbourne Cup Day, then a month later Christmas Day and Boxing Day, and this Sunday, it will be Australia Day.

Three of the days bring unanimity and one brings division, namely Australia Day.

Why is it so when 80% of respondents agree with the date of January 26, 11% hate it and the balance are undecided?

And why do we get a public holiday on the Monday when Australia Day falls on the Sunday? That's another story.

Let's go back to 1788, the arrival of the First Fleet of British ships at Port Jackson NSW and Governor Arthur Phillip's raising of the flag of Great Britain.

The 11-strong fleet brought 1480 men, women and children for the establishment of a penal colony. Most were British convicts. African, American and French convicts also came for the ride. Not sure how Phillip got away with that.

In the preceding couple of hundred years the Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese and French flirted with the island and today evidence of their flirtations remain with place names including Tasmania, Groote Eyelandt, Cape Van Dieman and La Perouse, among many others.

At one stage it was considered most likely that the French would annex what is now Western Australia.

Most importantly, 10s of thousands of years before that, our first indigenous Australians made the tricky voyage from Asia to settle in Australia.

Since the end of World War II, some eight million people have settled here from almost every one of the 200 or so countries in the world. The surname "Nguyen" is now more common than "Smith."

Australia Day, or Anniversary Day, was declared in 1838, 50 years after the arrival of the First Fleet, and it's been celebrated ever since.

Barbecues, family and friends get-togethers, games of cricket and touch, horse racing and toasting to this great country are the order of the day.

Hoons and non-hoons alike decorate their vehicles with both green and gold and red, white and blue flags, streamers and, God-forbid, Chinese Kangaroos.

And rousing renditions of Advance Australia Fair are heard throughout the nation. If you don't like "young and free" plonk in "old and fading" as that's what many of us are.

Australia is multicultural as is the world. So it should be. Improved transport and communications mean we can finally achieve, in the lyrics of a forgettable Blue Mink song, "a great big melting pot."

What we need is a great big melting pot

Big enough to take the world and all it's got

And keep it stirring for a hundred years or more

And turn out coffee coloured people by the score

Indeed I was disappointed that the Scottish-composed Advance Australia Fair prevailed in a vote over Banjo Paterson's iconic Waltzing Matilda to be our new national anthem after the termination of God Save the Queen. That too is another story.

There are many things that we can change, like closing the gap between the health of indigenous Australians and the rest of us.

Let's change the way we treat each other; let's change the incidence of depression among our brothers and sisters; let's change the spiralling crime rate and let's change the lack of employment opportunities so many more people can have a job and enjoy the independence and dignity that goes with having a job.

And for the Greens' Richard Di Natale and Adam Bandt, go celebrate whatever you celebrate on another day and leave the rest of us alone.

Let's not change the date.

Happy Australia Day everyone, will you be celebrating with me?



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