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OPINION: Why we should move Australia Day.

A gum (eucalyptus) leaf as a memento of 30 July 1915, designated Australia Day to raise funds for Australian troops. Source: J. Paul Robinson

On the 19th February 1942, 242 Japanese aircraft, in two separate raids, attacked the town of Darwin.

On that day more bombs were dropped on Darwin than on Pearl Harbour. The attacked killed at least 235 people and caused immense damage, the attacks made hundreds of people homeless and resulted in the abandonment of Darwin as a major naval base.

It was the first in over 100 bombing raids on Australia; other cities bombed included Townsville, Broome and Cairns.

The Japanese didn’t invade Australia because it would have spread them too thin across the Pacific. Japan also had their hands full with the Americans in the Pacific at the time.

But hypothetically lets change history slightly, Let’s say that Tojo did it make it to Darwin, in fact, let’s say he made it all the way across Australia and as a nation we fell and become part of the Japanese empire.

Slowly over time, our new invaders changed our language from English to Japanese. Also slowly, we were taught that Christianity was wrong and that Shinto and Buddhism were the “only” religions.

Imagine that over time the Japanese imperial army started to take our land of us, the land we had held for generations because they needed to farm rice for Tokyo. Slowly it became harder and harder to get Weet-bix, Lamingtons and Beer. Instead in the shops, we could only find raw fish, seaweed and sake.

Imagine being told that everything that happened before 1942 was irrelevant; in fact, kids started being taught at school that Australia was ‘no one’s land”. In fact, anyone who is not Asian is now seen as an outsider. The 19th of February now becomes Japan day and to celebrate, we all eat sushi and wave a red and white flag.

Slowly over time, Australian culture is replaced by a foreign culture that we never asked to join. Now apply the above to Aboriginal people and you may start to understand why some people call it invasion day.

The 26th of  January marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British ships at Port Jackson and the raising of the Flag of Great Britain at Sydney Cove by Governor Arthur Phillip.

January 26 is that it is a day that positions European settlement as the primary source of national identity and pride. In doing so, it ignores more than 60,000 years of pre-colonial history.

The first Australia Day was in 1915, when the mother of four servicemen thought up the idea of a national day, with the specific aim of raising funds for wounded soldiers, and the term was coined to stir up patriotic feelings. The date chosen was 30 July, on which many fund-raising efforts were run to support the war effort.

In 1916, the Australia Day committee that had formed (to organise the fundraising) determined that it would be held on July 28

If it has been moved before why not move it again?

Australia day poster 1915

Great Britain doesn’t have Britain day, in America, some states have changed the name Columbus Day to Discovery Day or Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

In 1770 Lt James Cook declared Australia terra nullius during his voyage around Australia, something which came as a bit of surprise to the 750,000 people who were already living here.

Not until 1935 did all the Australian states and territories use the name ‘Australia Day’ to mark 26 January. Australia Day officially became a public holiday for all states and territories only 24 years ago, in 1994.

Let’s move it to a day that is all-inclusive, a day that we can all agree on because that’s the Australian thing to do.

To have your say Editorial@theexpressnewspaper.com.au

 

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