Ian's Rant – Australia Day Date
A less controversial date for Australia Day.
“Australia Day” – the official national day of Australia – has long been celebrated on January 26th. This date in history marks the landing of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788.
I'm probably like most modern Australians in terms of caring little about that date's actual historic significance. There has never typically been any commemoration, such as a reenactment of the landing. (Only once, on the 1988 bicentenary, did such a reenactment take place).
Instead, Australia Day has always simply been a public holiday on which to reflect on and celebrate being an “Aussie”.
The fact that Australia Day is celebrated on the same date as the arrival of European colonists is painful to many indigenous Australians. Progressives and activists alike have rebranded January 26th as “Colonisation Day”, “Invasion Day” or “Day of Mourning”. Whatever the title, the meaning is the same – it marks the date when the country was taken over.
I don't wish to weigh into any debate over Australia's colonial history. This happened over two centuries ago! The whole world was way more brutal back then. As I've always said:
We shouldn't use the morals of today to judge the errors of the past.
Sadly, this year (2024) we've once again seen Australia Day marred by protests – even the senseless cutting down of a historic statue. I'm also starting to notice that fewer Aussies today are publicly celebrating Australia Day in the face of mounting criticism. Changing the date seems inevitable.
But change – to what? Most proposed alternatives suggest dates of other historical events, many of which could be equally insensitive to indigenous Australians. Why switch to yet another controversial date?
It would also be helpful if any new date remained fairly close to the original date (ie. somewhere in January). Existing Australia Day traditions could continue, plus there'd be negligible disruption to the overall spacing of public holidays on our calendar.
As a bonus, it could remain as the first public holiday of the year (after New Year's Day) – and a happy one at that. It would be nice to celebrate our national day prior to other more solemn commemorations.
My proposal is not based on anything from the history books. Instead, it's based on the ubiquitous letter combination “AU”, which is already recognised as our national country code both locally and abroad. We only need to convert “AU” to a date:
- “A” = 1st letter of the alphabet;
- “U” = 21st letter of the alphabet;
- “A,U” = “1,21” = “January 21”. Simple, right?
Think of it as “AU Day” and you have a neat memory hook. All Aussies – even those who've only recently arrived on these shores – should be able to easily recall the date of our national day.
Not my agenda
Personally, I'm not advocating for any change to the status quo. Such change typically causes turmoil – not to mention costs time and money.
However, if we must change the date of Australia Day, I humbly propose January 21st as a simple, logical alternative.
– Ian Fieggen, 26-Jan-2024