January 26th is “Australia Day” for our southern hemisphere cohorts. Much like Labor Day here in America, it’s a day off of work, toss the last burger of the year on the BBQ, and maybe take the family to the beach. Historically, however, it’s more like the Columbus Day is here in America. Held to commemorate the arrival of European settlers at Sydney Harbour in 1788, it has recently come under fire for its more inflammatory history.
Often called “Invasion Day” by leftists in Australia, they want to keep the title, the day off, change the narrative, and move it to another day. In their minds, they can save the holiday from “colonialism.” Meanwhile, the right wants it to stay and be celebrated openly, just as it historically has been.
This year, the left emphasized their request for changes. The night before Australia Day, a statue of British colonial figure Captain James Cook in Melbourne was cut down at the shins. With the nubs painted with the phrase “the colony will fall,” it wasn’t the only site targeted. A statue of Queen Victoria was slathered in red paint.
In 2023, Australia allowed those voices of opposition an opportunity to get things changed. With a ballot put forth, lawmakers tried to get changes to the 1901 constitution enacted. If passed, they would have recognized the first inhabitants of the island, as well as created an Indigenous consultative party to directly interface with the government. Defeated in nearly every state of the country, it’s not very surprising with a population that totals 4% of Australia’s 26 million inhabitants.