Making Australia Day really reality
POLITICAL animals of all stripes are scuttling around ahead of Federal and State elections looking for the highest branch in the trees that struggle to survive on the river bank of politics in this country.
Suddenly the wildlife, both native and introduced, stop, ears prick up, nostrils flare and eyes widen as Australia Day floats round the bend in our dry political discourse.
The animals on the right hand bank see Australia Day as a beautifully restored colonial era paddle steamer, constructed of gorgeous Australian native timbers, painted all spick and span, chugging along all ship shape and Bristol fashion with all the efficiencey that only 250 years of civilising empire can bestow. Manned by crisply liveried soldiers, muskets all a-twinkle in the sun, it's a sight to set any patriots heart a-flutter
But the animals on the left hand bank see Australia Day as the stinking carcass of a dead 100 year old Murray Cod floating belly up in the stagnant waters of jingoism- a stomach churning metaphor for 250 of years of murderous colonial theft that bobs to the surface every January 26 - the stench never quite going away, engulfing our nation's spirit in a thick fug of self- righteous denial-ism.
For those who Gallipolise themselves into a delirium on this day, its a case of get over it - we won, and the country is all the better for it (just ignore all the dead fish). The dispossessed will just have to stand aside while we "Aussie Aussie Aussie oi oi oi” ourselves into a lather and self-congratulate each other for being amazingly multi-cultutalised - except if you're an asylum seeker.
We have also become fixated on the date - its a tangled mess of miss-aligned citizenship ceremonies, survival days and Hottest 100's. All very symbolically noble but not really addressing the root of the problem, which is - white people came here, stole the land from the original custodians, killed anyone who got in their way and never fully acknowledged it legally or financially.
The solution is to face up to it, go the whole hog - truth telling, reconciliation and a treaty. We could sign it on January 26 next year.
Then it really would be Australia Day.