OPINION: We need a new Australia Day

I WISH you all a very happy Australia Day.

It's exactly a year since Tony Abbott shot himself in the foot by knighting Prince Philip.

Actually, he shot himself in both feet, his two hands and, I suspect, somewhere in the region covered by his red budgie smugglers.

Possibly between the eyes, also.

What has happened since then? Well, Tony is no longer prime minister; now we have Malcolm Turnbull who was all in favour of a republic in years gone by but has gone rather silent on the matter since taking over.

I rather expect the topic to be raised again after the next federal election should the Coalition retain power. Watch this space.

I'm a (mostly) proud Aussie. I love this country and I think we are truly blessed to live here.

I love our sense of humour, our larrikin spirit and the essence of all things Australian, particularly our tradition of mateship.

I love the fact that only here can we say "Dazza and Shazza played Acca Dacca on the way to Maccas" and know that we will be understood.

Not so sure about our dubious reputation as being the only country in the world that eats our coat of arms. I've eaten both and find them delicious.

Also not too sure about the seemingly permanent coupling of our national day with excessive consumption of booze.

Today, once again, we will no doubt be subjected to the inevitable parade of drunken Australians parading on our beaches and in our parks wrapped in our flag, helpfully provided by liquor companies alongside a slab or six of golden ale.

Despite my column last week that accepted substance abuse as being the lifeblood of many creative spirits, loutish drunkenness doesn't quite cut it.

And this new jingoism that has emerged in recent years, the "If you don't like it, go home" attitude that was displayed shamefully in the Cronulla riots of 2005, continues to worsen and has resulted in hellish situations in places like Nauru and Manus Island, with there are sexual assaults, self harming and children behind razor wire.

Just as sad is the fact that indigenous Australians cannot celebrate January 26.

How about giving us a national day that we can all be proud of, instead of a day our indigenous population rightly sees as a day of mourning.

February 13, 2008, the day that a moving speech that apologised to our First Nation for the Stolen Generations was delivered in parliament, was - I believe - the day this country truly came of age.

We have proven our courage on the bloody battlefields of the world, but the day that Kevin Rudd did what the spineless Howard refused to do is the day we should celebrate Australia Day.



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