Australia Day or Invasion Day?


Commentary

Australians celebrate Australia Day on Wednesday, January 26th. For many years, it was a day of joy and pride that new Australian citizens were welcomed by the country in citizenship ceremonies.

Appropriate citizens will receive the honor of Australia Day on that day. Australians proudly attend their neighbors at community festivals, barbecues, music performances, and participate in sports and beach events. In Melbourne, the Australian Open usually culminates when the world’s best tennis players compete for the glory of sports.

But recently, Australia Day has been accused of being “Aggression Day” by a voice lobby group. For them, it is a day of mourning and offers the opportunity to advocate choosing another day as a national holiday for Australia or to abolish it altogether.

To understand how Australia Day evolved to mourn a portion of Australia’s population, on January 26, 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip’s first fleet was convicted of about 750 and 550. It consisted of 11 ships carrying human soldiers and crew. His and his family landed at Sydney Cove (now Circular Quay) and claimed the British Crown of Australia. Upon landing, the British flag was planted on the shore, and the officers surrounding the flag toasted King George III.

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Workers wash away the red paint poured on the statue of Captain Cook on January 26, 2022 at St Kilda Beach, Melbourne, Australia. (DiegoFedele / Getty Images)

After the arrival of the First Fleet on that turbulent day of fate in 1788, a new penal colony in New South Wales was established with Arthur Phillip as the first governor.

Today, if a person can trace his or her ancestors to prisoners or free settlers arriving in the First Fleet, that is a source of great pride. They are somewhat regarded as Australian royalty.

However, the controversial and harsh claim that January 26 should be characterized as a day of invasion and a day of mourning makes it the current racial “deconstruction” movement, the movement for change. It can be better understood by putting it in context. The meaning and relevance of a traditional event, symbol, or project.

Deconstruction can be seen by imposing a Critical Race Theory (CRT) course at our university. This theory is based on the idea that Australia is a racist country and Aborigines are victims of inherent racism.

The penetration of CRT into the curriculum of Australia’s higher education sector is often paired with the demonization of Western civilization and the claims of ethnocentrism.

Also, statues and monuments of historical figures who have contributed to or are believed to have benefited from racial discrimination will be dismantled or destroyed.

The practice of historical revisionism has facilitated the rewriting of history books to the benefit of those who want to pursue this path of racial deconstruction.

But in Australia, most people want to celebrate Australia Day on January 26th, as revealed by an online survey. It commemorates the birth of Australia, a proud liberal and democratic country. This is expected to be a good reason to celebrate, but supporters of “Day of Invasion” have ruined what would otherwise be a happy and enjoyable opportunity for everyone.

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On January 26, 2021, you can see a boxing kangaroo inflated in the shade of a family at the Nepian River Reserve in Menangle Park, Sydney, Australia. (MarkKolbe / Getty Images)

There is no doubt that indigenous Australians have been persecuted and sometimes extinct in the past.

Responding to this disgraceful history of abuse and unjust violence has resulted in a metronomic annual request to change the date of Australia Day or abolish it.

This in turn contributed to Australia’s balkanization. Attempts to unify Australia have always been dissatisfied with these ferocious attacks on Australia Day.

So is there any discussion about changing the date of Australia Day or abolishing it altogether?

According to one argument, the landing of Captain Arthur Phillip and the establishment of his administrative control over Australia constituted a terrible violation of Aboriginal sovereignty over the land, and the indigenous Eora who occupied what is now Sydney in 1788. Was destroyed.

Under international law, sovereignty can be achieved in several ways, including the effective occupation of terra nullius.

But the Australian High Court said Mabo v QueenslandIn 1992, it was decided that Australia was not a terra nullius. This decision facilitated the adoption of the Native Title Act 1993 and created the land rights industry that is now prevalent in Australia.

It is fair to note that the concept of sovereignty was certainly foreign to the indigenous peoples of Sydney Cove in 1788. Sovereignty in international law requires a well-defined geographic area, government, and population. It is doubtful that both sides met all three requirements at the time.

However, relying on Western legal concepts to explain the arrangements that existed in Aboriginal society in 1788 may be inappropriate and misunderstood.

Therefore, it may be virtually correct to characterize the landing of the First Fleet and the establishment of a new British penal colony as an “aggression.” But certainly, the events that happened 234 years ago should not be trusted by the descendants of the Aboriginal people who were confiscated in 1788, with the purpose of constantly demanding the creation of another Aboriginal state within Australia. Called the “first country” in the Federal Constitution, the establishment of a voice (a permanent advisory council body with the authority to deny legislation), or various preferential policies that divide Australia today?

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Protesters will showcase their sign at the Invasion Day rally on January 26, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (DarrianTraynor / Getty Images)

The question is whether Australia Day should perform an irrelevant function by redressing the disadvantages that Australian indigenous people still endure.

Or is it a day to unite all Australians to celebrate our common efforts, achievements and aspirations, regardless of race or ethnicity?

Choosing another day as Australia Day, or abolishing it altogether, is a wasteful and meaningless symbol that does not remedy the plight of Australian indigenous peoples or offer more opportunities and possibilities. For full participation in public life, there is a perceived or real danger that it is only a typical gesture.

Symbols are often an inadequate window dressing replacement for projects that make a real difference in people’s lives.

The demand to abolish Australia Day is a backward strategy and cannot improve the lives of Aboriginal people by itself.

Australia Day is a day that all Australians should celebrate. Therefore, its hallmark as “Day of Invasion” is a division strategy that cannot unite people and instead divides them.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Gabriel Moens

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GabriĆ«l A. MoensAM is an emeritus professor at the University of Queensland and vice president and dean of Murdoch University. In 2003, Mornes was awarded the Australian Centennial Medal by the Prime Minister for her service to education. He has taught extensively in Australia, Asia, Europe, and the United States. Moens recently published two novels, “ATwisted Choice” (Boolarong Press, 2020) and “The Coincidence” (Connor Court Publishing, 2021).