Kudos for an incredible own goal to the person at the ABC who came up with the idea of officially condoning the use of the term “Invasion Day” instead of Australia Day.
The incredibly inflammatory and premature decision is certainly going to polarise the nation further and even set back moves to either change the date or the name of the day.
The whole debate had increasingly begun to move in favour of those wanting a change.
But these things take time and you need to take the community with you. Many people, including some in the middle who might have been swayed over time, were shocked by the ABC’s move and had to read the news for themselves to believe the broadcaster had made such a provocative call.
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As evidence: the lead story in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age this morning has the latest survey showing that fewer than a third of Australians support the campaign to change the date. With only 28% in favour the story noted “there is a long way to go if a campaign is to succeed in convincing Australians of the need to change the date from January 26”.
The poll does note that more than half the respondents thought the date would be changed in the next 10 years, which reflected the generational divide on the issue.
And this is my point. The mood was changing already without the risky move by the ABC. The national broadcaster should be reflecting the community’s views, while giving voice to the other side of the argument — not arbitrarily deciding to change them.
Don’t get me wrong. I too have a problem with January 26 being claimed as our national day and believe the day must equally encompass the other side of the story. I absolutely see the case for Invasion Day.
A national day for any country should be about the whole country and the country as a whole. It should be unifying. By all means mark January 26 rightly as Invasion Day. But don’t pretend that they are interchangeable.
Independence Day on July 4 is a good example. Few in the United States celebrate the lesser known and more controversial Columbus Day celebrating the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas.
The other issue is that this is a very political decision from an ABC that had been treading so lightly that its own news director Gaven Morris recently warned its funding could be impacted “if we’re seen to be representing inner city elite interests”.
Talk about an over correction. Morris’ comments were quite correctly called out for being craven. Equally the ABC should never fear taking the right position because of the baying of the Murdoch media and those nasty little imbeciles who suffer ABC derangement syndrome.
Nevertheless, it has to be said that this decision is absolutely playing into the hands of its opponents.
The official edict states it would be inappropriate to insist that staff only call it Australia Day or “use any one term over others in all contexts”.
Strange then that only a couple of weeks ago the same ABC news management told journos not to refer to the attack on the US Capitol as an “insurrection”. You have to wonder just what is going on in the heads of the news management there at the moment.
Thus far the ABC has stood by its Australia Day decision, despite the outrage from the usual far-right MPs and Sky blatherers. Not to mention Scotty From Marketing’s reaction, which will divert from his ludicrous “it wasn’t flash for the First Fleet either” comments last week.
It’s possible that, when the Australia Day finally changes, the ABC move may be looked back on as a catalyst.
But I fear it will have the opposite effect, and instead cement the day and the name and the divisions it provokes.
Has the ABC made the right decision on its use of Invasion Day and Australia Day? Let us know your thoughts by writing to [email protected]. Please include your full name to be considered for publication in Crikey’s Your Say column.