Australia Day

Australia Day, as January 26, is dead. Gone. Already over. It will keep walking around for a few years, maybe a decade or so, but there will eventually be another national day. What day that will be? God knows. But it will have to be a day that marks something of both settler and Indigenous importance. Maybe "1967 Referendum Day"? "Mabo Day"? It might end up being plain old bloody Anzac Day, since Aboriginal soldiers served. They were shabbily treated then and after, but serve they did, a result which might actually be worse than January 26. The day Trevor Chappell bowled underarm? The anniversary of Khe Sanh’s release? Any of these.

Australia Day was gone as soon as it could start to be questioned by more than a small minority of the population. In 1938, Aboriginal activists, Communists and some radical Christians staged the first Day of Mourning on Australia Day. Such a marking came and went -- as did regard for Australia Day itself -- over the decades, returning to public attention as "Invasion Day" in the radical 1970s, and again on the Bicentennial in 1988. But it remained the preserve of Indigenous activists and the white radical left, overwhelmingly an inner-urban intelligentsia and related groupings.