Jan 25, 2018

Hinch’s Senate Diary: the Greens have no hope of winning the Australia Day debate. Nor should they.

Senator Derryn Hinch takes on the Change the Date debate in his first Senate Diary of 2018.

Derryn Hinch — Senator

Derryn Hinch


It is sad, but probably indicative of the times, that I'm starting my first Senate Diary entry for 2018 by going back to a tired and tattered old topic that dominated the headlines (again) this time last year.

Australia Day. Invasion Day. Why January 26 is an insult to Indigenous Australians. The Greens have made a stand and their new Victorian MP, Lidia Thorpe, has called for flags to be flown at half-mast tomorrow in mourning. (I don't agree with that, but am appalled by the rape threats to her and hope the perpetrator is arrested and charged soon).

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22 thoughts on “Hinch’s Senate Diary: the Greens have no hope of winning the Australia Day debate. Nor should they.

  1. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    Senator Hinch, the only reason you offered in this article as to why January 26 might not be appropriate to celebrate Australia Day is that the date “is an insult to Indigenous Australians”. You don’t agree, of course and apparently you have met a few Aborigines and they aren’t insulted so that’s good enough for you. Sounds like you don’t really have any skin in the game. So you won’t feel miffed if, as time goes by, each and every 26th January is marked by ever increasing protests, rallies, graffiti in the streets and arguments with politicians who simply refuse to engage in a conversation because it is a “tired and tattered old topic” – a bit like reconciliation, no doubt. If our democracy decided, down the track, that another date for the celebration of a united Australia had been found, would you still cling to the old colonialist attitude or would you roll over without a whimper, even for a suggestion from the Greens?

  2. old greybearded one

    I don’t think I agree with you about Australia Day. It has bugger all to do with Australia as such. My Aboriginal friends will celebrate Australia tomorrow, but they do not feel good about it. Your comments about Tony Abbott simply reflect the destructive unpleasantness of his personality. The Turnbull government is bloody awful until you look at Abbott’s which was even worse. The man has way too much ego. His comments about how great the first fleet has been for Aboriginals is a case in point. I allow they could have been taken over by the Portuguese or the Dutch who were even worse, though the French might have been an improvement, but to see the way that our first people were treated since federation is a matter of shame. Tony loves the military so let him see the story of Len Waters or Reg Saunders. The trouble is most politicians and a good many other Australians, don’t know any ordinary blackfellas, only official or TV ones. One of our great old blokes in my town shore sheep with Len Waters who was a fighter pilot in WW II, but too black to be a civilian one in Queensland. Yeah it was real good for Len eh? Old Tom’s uncle was bashed and killed in the main street of a nearby town and noone was even charged, though it was in plain view. Good for him too I suppose. Then there is my friend Ali from Darwin who heads for the long grass on the 26th, she reckons she’s safer there without the redneck flag drapers. She said “its no place for a blackfella there mate.”

  3. 124C4U

    Why bother changing the date, it will only have to be changed again when China or India invade us.

  4. Itsarort

    What a puerile comparison, America’s Independence Day and our, hopelessly contrived, Australia Day. The Yanks celebrate Columbus Day and the 4th of July. Perhaps we can do the same. Let’s have Cook’s Day (22nd of August) and Australia Day. But who actually gives a rat’s freckle about the date the First Fleet landed at Port Jackson? Surely we can find something more relevant in our history than the monumental cock-up of the First Fleet?

    1. Wayne Cusick

      Ironic that US citizens celebrate Columbus day, yet the man never set foot on what is now the USA.
      We could chose several dates like that:
      April 19 – Captain Cook sighted Australia in 1770
      January 5 – William Dampier anchored off WA in 1688
      October 25 – Dirk Hartog landed on an island off WA in 1616
      February 26 – Willem Janszoon landed on Cape York in 1606

      Mark Kenny at the Age/SMH suggested May 9 – the day the the Parliament of Australia first sat (also first sitting in Canberra and in the new Parliament House).

      The Constitution of Australia Act passed UK Parliament on July 9, 1900, and passed into law on January 1, 1901 – when the country truly became Australia.

      1. Stavros

        Couldn’t agree more. To me, 26 January should be called NSW Day, the continent being, at that time certainly not inhabited by Europeans. We became the recognisable nation of Australia on 1 January 1901, so the date of the first sitting of Parliament is an excellent suggestion. Alternatively, make a commitment to change Australia Day on the date we become a Republic, which will be inevitable under some decent leadership and are rid of the vacillating ego bag we have as a PM.

  5. electme

    I’m 60. For the majority of my life, Australia Day passed by without a thought to go on a ferry race, see fireworks or raise a flag. Without a thought about ‘Australia’ – or any other concept of the imagination, like ‘patriot’ (eek!), or events from 200 years ago, equally.
    Then along came John Howard et al.
    You wanted a special day to ‘celebrate’ – like those other well-known ‘patriotic’ peoples around the globe? Enjoy it, change it, I don’t care: I’ll just keep ignoring it.

    1. Dog's Breakfast

      Same electme, not quite as old, but Australia Day was always celebrated in its silence and lack of national idiocy, and that is the Australia that I am part of.

      These nationalistic, jingoistic celebrations are anathema to what I thought Australia was.

      Thanks Derryn, a typically inept non-argument for keeping 26th January as a day of celebration.

    2. cp

      So true. I thought I was alone thinking this. It was never like like this before Howard. Ditto Anzac day. How awful we’ve become.
      Why does​ Crikey always publish Hinch? It’s such a difficult read. I’d prefer to read what the cross bench are thinking. Why not have a random selection of pieces from them instead of this plonker?

      1. Charlie Chaplin

        Me four, guys. The monster that grew to be Anzac Day was an eye opener – fascinating to watch- but the NSW government ads about Australia Day this year raised my eyebrows. Perhaps the ads have been going for years and I just didn’t know because I don’t watch free to air television.

  6. AR

    These self advertisements are, now, literally self advertisements, plugging a book.
    We subscribers have paid, over & over, if only in time, for what is the collected words, to be bought.
    Sire, you jest.

  7. MAC TEZ

    Don’t thank me DH and I’d say any Crikey readers that bought your terrible tome would’ve wanted to use it as novelty bog roll or as a Xmas gift for someone they hate.
    I’ve got a trivia question for you DH…
    What’s the most intelligent statement Tony Abbott ever uttered ?
    “Shut the fuck up Hinch”.

    1. cp

      Soooo funny. Thank you…

  8. Marjorie Carless

    I can understand why the first people don’t agree with the date of Australia Day but will never agree with activists spoiling this day for others if it happens. The colonisation of Australia happened 300 or so years ago, why can’t we all forget? Or have a day to celebrate their people and what they have achieved and if we can’t do that then have an United Australia Day on a date agreed to by a majority of all nationalities that make up this country. The British and their colonial governments treated the aborigines dreadfully but they did so to their own people in England, to India, to Africa, in fact to everywhere they went as did the Spanish, Portuguese, etc. We should look ahead not back as it just promotes dissatisfaction for all involved.

    1. Zeke

      The Uluru statement was about looking ahead, yet the Prime Minister rejected it out of hand. That’s why people can’t “forget”.

      Why should the invasion, dispossession, slaughter and theft of children and culture be forgotten? The effects of the British invasion is ongoing and you may notice the top left corner of the Australian flag.

      I believe what causes dissatisfaction is not Jan 26th but the fact that life expectancy for our first people is so much less than it is for the average Australian and the fact that the Uluru Statement was rejected out of hand by Malcolm Turnbull without even putting it to the people via our federal parliament and a referendum.

  9. Hunt Ian

    Derryn, which other country celebrates the appropriation of all its land by the British Crown on its national day? This was the starting point for hangings of Australia’s first peoples for theft, murder and then followed by roundups into missions, where those people’s could enjoy the benefits of being outcasts without rights in their own land. This is now being reversed in a piecemeal way but a comparison between the health outcomes of white landowners and aborigines living in the same area should make it clear, if nothing else does, that what happened on January 26, 1778 needs to be undone rather than celebrated. Of course, until we get a founding day of an Australian Republic, we might as well leave Australia Day where it is as a reminder that we need a new national day celebrating the foundation of an Australian republic, that embraces all our different citizens and makes a treaty with its first peoples to rectify the wrongs that began in 1778.
    Meanwhile, I suppose you’re right that the Greens are wasting their time with what the media present as their campaign, as are people who whitewash statues of Captain Cook. No one is going to wind the clock back on the arrival of Europeans, Asians or Africans in Australia but we can roll back the clock on the appropriation of all its land by the British Crown.

    1. Draco Houston

      Let’s call it ‘Dependence Day’

  10. John Hall

    If our Aboriginal Australians were to get a Treaty ratified on Australia Day I would support the date remaining. Otherwise we should have a referendum to have indigenous representation enshrined in our Constitution.

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