On 26 January we should unashamedly celebrate the achievement of modern Australia.
To be born in Australia today, or to have become an Australian citizen after settling here, is to be truly blessed. It is to win the lottery of life. But sometimes we forget how fortunate we are.
Imagine if we were born in another time or place. We might have suffered the horrors of Nazism, the oppression of Soviet communism, or the misery of the Great Depression.
Imagine if we were citizens of another country today. We might be on the frontlines in Ukraine, mourning loved ones killed in the Middle East, or living with little hope or freedom under a crackpot dictator.
Australia was formed without civil war or the level of bloodshed most other countries have known. And that’s not to say we’ve had ideal beginnings or an unblemished history. Indigenous Australians suffered terribly. For the convicts who arrived here from Britain on the First Fleet and the ships afterwards, life was incredibly difficult.
But in an astonishingly short period of time, penal colonies became successful settler economies and federated to form a new country. Since 1901, successive generations of Australians forged a modern nation in peacetime and defended our country and values in wars and conflicts abroad.
Unlike other countries where difference has caused enduring enmity, we recognise that the Australian achievement would not exist without our Indigenous heritage, British inheritance and migrant contributions.
No country is perfect. But to understand our history is to recognise that the Australian story is overwhelmingly one of success.
Australia is not a lucky country by chance but by design. Every Australian today is a beneficiary of what our forebears built. Living in one the safest, egalitarian and prosperous nations in the world, Australians have an advantage which citizens of many other countries could never imagine or only dream about.
And yet, as Australia Day approaches, the usual suspects are out in force trying to feed us a diet of national self-loathing. Each year, these moralising lecturers take to social media and our televisions to push their ideological narratives.
Before Australia Day is over, you will undoubtedly hear the same elites, inner-city advocates, celebrities and corporate honchos deliver the same old sermons. You will hear them preach that we should only feel ashamed of our British past and inheritance and that we need to ‘change the date’.
Such people are determined to examine our history in the most hostile, unforgiving and unbalanced manner imaginable. Their goal is political: to delegitimise the achievement of modern Australia by saying that our nation was founded on original sin.
Most Australians sensibly ignore these advocates’ dishonest arguments. But it would be unwise to underestimate their influence, particularly as their views so often go uncontested.
Today, the context and complexity of Australia’s past are too frequently left out of the lessons our school children are taught. They can tell their parents about the ramifications of colonisation on Indigenous people and the harm done to some of the Stolen Generations, but very little about the British institutions, laws and liberties we inherited which have motored our national success and benefited every Australian.
A Lowy poll in 2023 found that 33% of those aged 18-44 preferred other kinds of government to democracy. While an IPA poll in 2022 found that 53% of those aged 18-24 see socialism as the ideal economic system for Australia.
Such results are not surprising when young Australians are taught history selectively and in a manner which doesn’t inspire pride in our country or gratitude for our inheritance.
Of course, the national self-loathing agenda is being retailed beyond our education system. Woolworths, Big W and Aldi have stopped selling Australia Day merchandise following in the virtue signalling footsteps of Kmart last year. It is up to every Australian whether they choose to celebrate Australia Day or not. But that decision should not be made for us by elite out of touch CEOs.
Most disgracefully, 81 local councils have cancelled citizenship ceremonies this year after being given the authority by the Federal Labor Government. What’s more, Prime Minister Albanese’s hand-picked High Commissioner to the UK, Stephen Smith, has scrapped a long-established Australia Day event in London.
With the Government ashamed of our national day and doing little to teach Australian values, it is no wonder that our citizenship test pass rate has fallen from about 80% under the Coalition to 65% under Labor.
All this follows the Prime Minister’s shameful Voice referendum where he sought to divide our country by ancestry and race at a cost of $450 million to taxpayers.
Everyday Australians have had a gutful of elites seeking to crush our national pride, tear down the Australian achievement and tribalise us through every form of identity politics.
Australians are facing incredible economic pressures right now. And we live in times of emboldened autocrats and terrorists. To deal with these challenges, we need to reinvigorate our national pride, rebuild our national confidence and restore our national unity.
We can achieve these goals if we choose resilience over victimhood, gratitude over resentment, forgiveness over retribution, self-assurance over demoralisation, truth over falsehood, and unity over division.
Every country has dark chapters in their history, but most don’t allow those chapters to cast such a long shadow as we do in our country. On this Australia Day, we don’t forget our dark chapters or the lessons of our history. But let us begin to rediscover our Australian greatness by expressing love for our country and by pushing back against those who want us to hate ourselves and our history.
25 January 2024