January 26, 2014

Horse 1602 - January 26th Actually IS Invasion Day.

Meanwhile an eight-kilometre stretch of foreshore at Botany Bay, where Captain Cook first landed on Australian shores, has been sprayed with graffiti denouncing Australia Day as 'Invasion Day'.
Local mayor Shane O'Brien says he supports reconciliation, and sees this kind of attack as setting back the cause of bringing people together.
When incidents like this happen on a day that's supposed to celebrate our success as a nation as well as reflect on what we didn't get right and what we could do better, you give those that don't want to move another reason not to," he said.
- via the ABC, 24th Jan 2013

Let me just repeat this statement by Rockdale City Council Mayor Shane O'Brien: "a day that's supposed to celebrate our success as a nation". Is it? Really? Does Mr O'Brien know history?
What is 26th January?

Is it the day that Australia became a nation? No. That was 1st Jan 1901.
Is it the day that Captain James Cook landed at Botany Bay? No. That was 29th Apr 1770.
Is it the day that the first colony, New South Wales, was proclaimed? No. That was 7th Feb 1788.
Is it the day that the First Fleet landed in Sydney? No. That was 23rd Jan 1788.
Is it the day that the First Fleet landed in Sydney Harbour? That was 25th Jan 1788.

So what is 26th Jan 1788? Specifically, it is the day that the British Flag was first hoisted on Australian soil, or more importantly it is the day that Eddie Izzard once said that the British stole Australia "with the cunning use of flags".
If you read the rest of the report, Captain Cook's cottage was vandalised again and the indignation that was raised was about the vandalisation (which itself is justified) but the question about what Australia Day is actually for and what it represents was once again ignored.

Australia Day specifically is designed to celebrate the day which as confirmed by Case Law, that Australia really was terra nullius. In New Zealand, they have Waitangi Day on February 6 which marks the day on which the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840, making peace with indigenous peoples and more importantly guaranteed the Maori rights to their land and gave Maori the rights of British subjects.
In contrast, Australia Day actually marks the day which Aboriginal people had their rights to their land removed and which any rights which they might have had as British subjects were also quashed. Although there was a referendum in 1967, the actual date which marked the full right or Aboriginal peoples' right to vote enshrined in legislation was 1984 when the Commonwealth Electoral Legislation Amendment Act 1983 came into effect.

If there really was to be an act of reconciliation, maybe the date of the 1967 referendum should be celebrated and Invasion Day quietly put to sleep. Suggesting that it's "a day that's supposed to celebrate our success as a nation", significantly misses the mark and is a denial of history itself.

Happy Invasion Day.

1 comment:

allan41 said...

Good work Mr Horse. Lucid and straight to the point, and yes, the Mayor (not the mare!) is wrong.