While most nations use their national day to celebrate their identity and/or birth, Australia is approaching yet another Australia Day with continued human confusion and muddle about both. Geographically we are certain what Australia is. Humanly we are not.
Every Australia Day reminds us of the two big unresolved matters of Australian identification: finding the proper place for Indigenous people in the constitution, and removing the obsolete place of the British monarchy.
Neither unresolved issue will go away. And while unresolved, many if not most Australians will feel their national identity is unsatisfactory, wanting, in need of repair, or a source of outright anger.
We will be forever lessened as a people until these two matters are resolved in a way that all Australians can be proud of, and self-assured and satisfied in their nationhood.
Importantly, the two issues should go hand-in-hand. It is unfortunate that we have seen some people and organisations arguing one or the other should come first. We must not be duped by British Empire divide-and-rule tactics.
The questions are inextricably linked. The declaration, upon the raising of the Union Jack on January 26, 1788, that the continent to 129 degrees longitude be a possession of King George III and his successors was also, by its nature, an act of dispossession of the Indigenous people.
For a long time, the disposed identified as members of their clan group - there were estimated to be about 500 of those groups in 1788 - while the new arrivals saw themselves as British. Robert Menzies, who was Australian Prime Minister until retiring in 1966, called himself "British to the bootstraps".
No Australian would identify as being "British to the bootstraps" now, let alone the Prime Minister. Whereas people of the Indigenous nations very much identify as Australian.
Nonetheless, the "British" elements, including the British monarch at its apex, remain in our constitution, while so many Indigenous people feel excluded, particularly from health, wealth and education.
Small wonder that the vast majority of Indigenous people, and a growing number of people of non-Indigenous heritage, see January 26 as "Invasion Day" - an invasion by the British, whose flag sits in the top corner of the Australian flag.
When concerns were raised about whether the national day should be January 26, and whether the dispossession and continued disadvantage of Indigenous Australians should be acknowledged, former prime minister John Howard referred to it as "the black-armband" view of history, and present Prime Minister Scott Morrison called it "indulgent self-loathing".
But the continued marking of January 26 as the national day has a racist undertone, not a nationalist one. It was not a nation-founding moment. It was the declaration of the land known as NSW as a colony - a place for white people from Britain to settle and place their convicts.
Marking January 26 can only be a "celebration" of the beginning of the white takeover and settlement of the continent, not the creation of the Australian nation, which was to come 112 years later.
The land that is now Western Australia was not even included in the January 26, 1788 declaration. The lands that are now Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT were just part of the colony of NSW.
To "celebrate" January 26 as Australia Day is either ignorant or racist.
As more people understand the history, the more they do not want to be part of any January 26 "celebration". Many have barbecues only because it happens to be a public holiday.
Those in power who do not want to change the date do not understand what they are doing. They profess to be patriotic, loyal Australians, but by their inaction they are contributing to a growing body of people who would prefer no Australia Day to a flawed, racist one. They are undermining national pride, not promoting it.
This growing body of people may not be taking to the streets, but they are voting with their feet. They are embarrassed by the ignorant displays of flag-waving jingoism on January 26. They do not want to join the "celebrations", because that would mean acquiescence.
And they are embarrassed that successive governments who are supposed to represent them have not had the self-assurance and confidence to remedy these two blemishes on our national identity.
They are not indulgent self-loathers, nor dismissive of enormous achievements by Australians. They just want the real history told. But they are disgusted at the speed with which the Coalition government dismissed the legitimate requests in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. And they are frustrated that those in power cannot find a way to convert that, and the majority's republican desires, into our constitutional arrangements.
On the question of the republic, the Australian Republic Movement should pack its tent and go away. The publication by the ARM this month of the "Australian Choice" model can only do what its campaign for a republic in the 1990s did: set back the cause, rather than progress it.
In the 1990s the ARM built up a great head of steam, culminating in a national convention. It then failed to neutralise the grandstanding "direct election" faction. And finally, the ARM fell for Howard's divide-and-rule referendum, resulting in an unholy alliance of monarchists and direct election people defeating the majority desire for a republic.
Now it has come up with a ridiculous model of each state nominating one candidate for president and the Commonwealth nominating three candidates, with all 11 standing in a preferential election. Not even a dog would eat that breakfast. And no one with an ounce of self-respect would take part in it.
ARM, please go away. Just let a sensible government legislate to require that the Prime Minister get approval of their nominated person from a two-thirds majority of a joint sitting before the Prime Minister can request the Queen to appoint that person as Governor-General.
And when that is seen as a worthwhile check on the present untrammelled power of the Prime Minister to pick anyone they like as Governor-General, a referendum to remove the Queen from the process will be a mere formality.
Spare us camel-creating committees.
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