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Australia Day: let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water

There’s a saying about not throwing the baby out with the bath water. Which is a cute way to caution those who would tear down everything when a small change will do. Australia Day definitely falls in the baby and the bathwater category.

Sure, we have got to look at ways to continue making the day as inclusive as possible, especially when it comes to those who were already here when the First Fleet sailed into Sydney Harbour on January 26, 1788.

Not that we should have needed a legal intervention, but the highest court in the land has ruled that this was not an empty continent when Captain Arthur Phillip and his crew planted the British flag on that fateful day.

Indeed we now know people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island descend occupied Australia for around 40,000 years before Phillip and his 11 ships set sail for Down Under.

Well, the boats never really stopped coming, bringing more people from Europe at first, then every corner of the world.

In the last few decades planes have replaced ships as the mode of legal transportation to Australia, but the point is new people just keep coming to this land of plenty, this so called lucky country.

However, change is mostly slow – we don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water – and it wasn’t that long ago that unless you had blond hair and blue eyes Australia Day celebrations were not for you.

That’s all changed of course and is reflected both in the promotion of the day and the increasing number of “ethnics’’ who are named in the annual honours list.

Alas, it seems that we still have some way to go before we can ensure that all of our Indigenous brothers and sisters feel comfortable with the date of Australia Day.

Some never will be, and they would be entitled to hold such a view.

Either way, changing the date is not the answer and it’s good to see our local council’s have not joined the trickle away from January 26.

As Bob Dylan sang, the answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind.

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