We celebrate our nation on Australia Day for many and varied reasons.
The choice of the 26th of January does receive criticism. But, for those who criticise, please get their facts right.
The 26th of January is not the day that Captain Cook ‘landed’ in Australia and it is not the day that the First Fleet arrived in Botany Bay.
‘Australia’ was first used as a term to describe this continent by Matthew Flinders many years after the colony of New South Wales was founded.
Australia first existed as a nation when it was proclaimed in January 1901. Previously called ‘Foundation Day’ the term ‘Australia Day’ wasn’t officially adopted until 1935.
Yes, the 26th of January was the day that the Colony of NSW was founded so it does have its connection to the so called ‘invasion’ that is at the centre of much of the criticism.
However, that is now a part of the day’s significance.
From about 1800 the date was initially a day of celebration of freedom by emancipated convicts.
Now for millions of Australians it is the day they or their parents became Australian citizens and that is what I think is its most important aspect.
In relation to the ‘invasion’ let’s be clear that it was going to happen.
The French, Germans, Dutch and others were on the door step and the British got in first.
I have no objection to those who wish to have a protest march and use the day to remember the tragedies of the colonisation. Changing the date will not erase that history.
Another of our national day’s is Anzac Day and it has various aspects to it’s significance both positive and negative.
It is also is our first public holiday.
For the average working family, the public holiday on the last weekend of the school holidays is a perfect opportunity to have a fun family weekend before school starts and routines get back to normal.
So, let’s keep the day and let it continue to evolve in its various meanings.
Neil Birdsall, Mortdale