Protesters participate in an Invasion Day march in Brisbane on Australia Day.
Protesters participate in an Invasion Day march in Brisbane on Australia Day. GLENN HUNT

January 26 will never be accepted as a day for celebration

Letters to the Editor

January 26 will never be accepted

IT WAS interesting to read the recent comments in The Gympie Times regarding the controversy surrounding the celebration of our national day on the date of the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove.

I approached with some optimism From the Mayor's Desk (Wedmesday, January 24) headed Australia Day debate overlooks real issues.

(Ironically, on the same page was a letter by a "peaceful” Lucie Ritchie castigating the council for not only overlooking the real issues, but for overlooking its constituents.)

Anyway, it turned out my optimism was unfounded because the "real issues” that the Mayor listed were the "motherhood” topics: "...public health, road safety, education,the rising costs of living, unemployment, immigration..” which, with the possible exception of immigration (ie white man's) had nothing to do with the debate which he affected to address.

The real issue with January 26 is that it is inevitably divisive.

For the descendants of the original inhabitants it marks the beginning of their dispossession and oppression by Anglo-Saxon invaders. And it will never be anything else.

(It was not until 1965 that all indigenous Australians had equal voting rights with white citizens.) If we are a truly united nation (as we so often proudly proclaim) we must recognise and accommodate our history.

On Tuesday, January 30, with Australia Day behind us once again, there were two more letters on the issue.

Julia Lawrence, OAM, under the heading Focus on the positive gave a warm endorsement to another successful Gympie Australia Day.

It included her recollection of a happy boat trip on the Maroochydore River when two young Aboriginal men "gave a commentary on the past and present history of the area as we went down the river”.

The letter, despite its good intentions, revealed more about our historically ingrained perceptions of , and attitudes to, Aboriginal people than it did about what is at the heart of the debate.

The other letter, by Dave Freeman, appeared under the common-sense heading Find a date nobody objects to.

Mr Freeman is clearly in favour of celebrating Australia Day, but he recognises the problem with the date.

He confronts the issue that is causing the annual debate and, not having heard a convincing argument for keeping the present date, proposes a process of managed and chance (using lotto balls) selection to replace it.

Certain months or parts thereof would not be included for logical reasons.

But I cannot understand why he would leave January 26 in the lottery. The whole idea is surely to change the date.

And it is nonsense to suggest that, if January 26 did come up, ..”those who protest that date need to just shut up.”

January 26 will never be accepted as a day for celebration.

I believe the majority of Australians can understand that and, in a true spirit of reconciliation, would be happy to celebrate our national day on another date.

Merv Welch,

The Palms

IN MY view the GT has sunk to an unprecedented low depth with its trumpeting of its affiliation with bookmakers Ladbrokes. 12 pages wasted on what is fundamentally a promotion of the insidious practice of betting on the hugely anachronistic "sport” of horse racing! I suspect that most of your readers, like me, are not the slightest bit interested in wasting their cash on nags. Let's face it,  the only beneficiary of punting on horseracing is the bookmaker, so you are in fact, encouraging people to give their money to these lowlifes.You might as well publish a guide to which establishments have the best poker machines for people to lose their money as quickly as possible, At least operating a poker machine involves  some degree of physical activity which would much better qualify it as a "sport” than gambling on horses. Speaking of horses, (supposedly ecologically friendly) I read some time ago, in Scientific American magazine, that a scientist had calculated that if everyone who had ever driven a motor car (supposedly ecologically unfriendly) had ridden a horse instead, the entire land surface of the Earth would be covered to a depth of 3.6 metres (12 feet) in horse manure!!!! Please, please, keep up the good work and forget all about Ladbrokes. Bevan Smithers (subscriber)