It's no good. I can't get excited about "Australia Day". I don't feel "patriotic" or "proud to be Australian". I never have.
I have a friend, a former politician, who sees herself as a big gum tree firmly rooted into Australian soil. She is passionately Australian. I wonder how that would feel.
It surprises me that people like her feel that way. They have travelled widely, met many other people, and done many things. I wonder what makes them feel "Australian"...and why they are so proud of it.
Every "Australia Day" there is another round of media publicity about how the date should be changed because some people see it as "Invasion Day" - simply because Captain Arthur Philip raised a flag on a piece of land, something which had been done before and has been done since by many nations. I wonder what people from other countries make of that? The United States of America isn't going to move the 4th July is it? What about Waitangi Day in New Zealand? And there are all those other "independence" days which claim to celebrate independence from a colonial power but must surely also celebrate an invasion?
Yes of course, that's the other issue isn't it? Some people say Australia isn't an "independent" country because it isn't a "republic". What utter rubbish. Australia is a republic in everything but name - and not all republics are called a republic. The passing of the Australia Act in 1986 formalised that. We could pass an act of parliament changing the title of "Governor-General" to "President" and things could go on the same as before. What most "republicans" want is something quite different. They want to change the way we are governed. Some of them see themselves as becoming "President". They would like to see the people directly elect someone or a different way of doing things. The reality is of course that there are discussions between all major parties, between Canberra and the states, and with other agencies to make sure that the person who is chosen has some ability to do the job. There have been one or two blunders (Kerr would be one) and one or two who have proved less malleable than an incumbent government had hoped (Hayden would be one) but, on the whole, the system has worked. What is more it has worked well.
I suppose I am just not patriotic. I don't wave flags. I refuse to learn the words to a "national anthem" which sounds like a dirge.
Given a choice I would have no holiday at all - and leave the rest of the system as it is. Shouldn't we all just be citizens of the world?