Peter Garrett — in his famed “jocular conversation” with radio jock Steve Price before the 2008 election — remarked that once in office, Labor would simply change all of its election promises.

In a strange twist of fate, the ALP has confirmed it is re-writing its national platform to ensure there is “no ambiguity” on the issue of its promise to move Australia Day to a more appropriate date.

I like a punt. I’m willing to bet Labor is also rewriting its national platform to ensure there is “no ambiguity” on a host of other promises as well, such as the promise of a treaty, and the promise to create a replacement for ATSIC which the Rudd government “would be accountable to”. Their words. Not mine.

There was, of course, never any ambiguity in any of Labor’s promises in the first place, not least of all the promise to shift Australia Day. But given that a Channel 10 news poll yesterday revealed 79 percent of Australians do not support moving the date, it’s not surprising that Labor — with shaking hands and puckered political sphincter — is preparing for a fire sale on its promises to Indigenous Australia.

Because what Labor understands is that on issues like Australia Day, we are not capable of a sensible national debate. Oi, Oi, Oi!

For example… Contrary to media reports, Australian of the Year, Professor Mick Dodson did not call for the date of Australia Day to be moved. He simply suggested (three times) that Australians — black, white or whatever — should have a conversation about the issue. And Labor couldn’t even do that.

“Let me say a simple, respectful, but straightforward no,” Rudd announced at a citizenship ceremony.

Granted, Rudd’s comments were simple, but there was nothing at all respectful about them. Prior to the election Labor promised Aboriginal people it would move Australia Day if elected. It did so because it knows that Aboriginal people can’t reasonably be expected to celebrate a day that marks the death through disease and slaughter of hundreds of thousands of their ancestors.

And now, in office, Labor “simply and respectfully” breaks that promise without explanation.

There’s nothing respectful about this comment from Rudd either: “We are a free country and it is natural and right from time to time, that there will be conversations about such important symbols for our nation. It is equally right as a free country that those of us charged with political leadership provide a straightforward response.”

Rudd is correct in asserting that he is “charged with political leadership”, so how ironic that on this issue he’s shown absolutely none. But let’s run with the theme for the sake of argument. How about a straightforward response to this, Kevin: Why did your party promise to move the date twice since 2004, and then reneg without explanation?

And this one: If you agree conversations are important in a free country, why did you spend almost two weeks avoiding this issue?

And this one: How many other Labor promises are now up for a “simple, respectful but straightforward no”. Does the term “core” and “non-core” ring any bells?

The truth is, Labor’s black promises are just little white lies. So on second thought, let’s leave the date where it is. The best thing about Australia Day is that it brings out the worst in so many Australians and in the process exposes our nation for what it truly is.

Which explains why the website got inundated with comments such as these:

Bazza of Geraldton: “Leave it as it is! Obviously this is the date that Australia came into the civilised foreward thinking world.”

Where spelling is apparently optional. And, inexplicably, this:

K of Sydney: “According to Aboriginal history they themselves invaded and took the land from the Pygmies who were here before them, so they are invaders too.”

And my personal favourite:

Barbara Morse of Tweed Heads South: “We have already seen so much of our Ausie (sic) identity taken from us why should we change anything else. If people don’t like what we do or the way we do things here in good old Aus go back to where they came from.

Amen, sister.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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