Friday, January 26, 2007
Australia (Invasion) Day
Here we go again - another Australia Day - or otherwise known as 'Invasion Day'. And out come the Aussie flags in ever-increasing numbers which, until very recently, used to be rivalled by quite significant numbers of Aboriginal flags also. Lately, the latter are rarely seen, but after all, this is John Howard's Australia and we're almost as jingoistic as the Americans these days. Up at Woolworths supermarket this evening, the entire checkout area was decked out in them - almost as if they were Christmas decorations.
But there's something very creepy going on here. When the organisers of yesterday's 'The Big Day Out' (annual, all-day, multi-band, music festival in Sydney showgrounds) decided to ban the Australian flag from the event, due to increasing incidences of racist outbursts (eg the Cronulla beach riots of just over a year ago), where (generally white) neo-nationalist yobbos would wreak racist havoc under the flag's banner - often draping themselves in it - the media whipped the story up as a big issue, dragging politicians in to comment. Of course, Howard said that any event that asks for the banning of the flag deserves to be banned itself. Results of commercial TV surveys showed that 92% thought it was wrong for the organisers to do this, with only 8% thinking it was the right thing. Therefore, the organisers were forced to offer their apologies and regrets over suggesting such a thing. And at 'The Big Day Out', record numbers of Howard's youth were draped in their beloved flag. No surprise there.
But what is it that this piece of cloth actually represents? What's to love? Seems to me it's more about dividing, rather than uniting - groups of people trying to claim it as theirs and so setting others apart/making them the enemies of it. As I said, this is John Howard's Australia. And in this, an election year with a new Opposition opponent doing well in the polls, Howard seized an opportunity to look 'green' (imitating George Bush yet again!) by appointing the scientist and environmentalist, Tim Flannery, as 'Australian of the Year'.
What a hypocrite!