From time to time, I make “modest suggestions” for the political reform of our nation (see in the side bar of this page my suggestion for an Australian Constitutional Monarchy). Not many (ie. none) have been taken up by those in charge (ie. the people of Australia).
Well, here’s another one. It concerns the date of Australia Day. For good reason, many have agitated for a change from January 26 to something a little less historically and ideologically charged. However, no other date seems to work.
This blog post makes a number of suggestions for alternative dates. But none of them really work. Think of January 1st, “Federation Day”. It’s already a public holiday, and it is smack bang in the middle of Australia’s “off season”. 9th and 27th of May are just as ideologically charged as 26th January – from the opposite direction. Or what about the suggestion of the Monday of Melbourne Cup weekend? Sorry, again, for many of us it is already an unofficial holiday – and do we really want to make a horse race the focus of our national day?
One reason for the inertia in doing anything about Australia Day is that the timing of the holiday works – perfectly. It concludes the January break. After the Monday holiday for Australia day, everybody is back at work. And school begins that week. It is the last great “hurrah” of the Summer shutdown.
So here is an idea. Why should we have a “fixed” date for Australia Day? There is no fixed “Melbourne Cup Day”, or Queen’s Birthday holiday, or even Easter. The day itself is special, not the historical date it commemorates. So here is my “modest proposal”: why not simply make the last Monday in January “Australia Day”? That would cut it loose from the events of 26th January 1788 as “Invasion Day”. It would solve the silly fact that we often have the public holiday on a day other than Australia Day itself. AND (most importantly for Ozzie culcha) it would preserve the most iconic Long Weekend in the Australian calendar.
What think you?