What Happened To The Green and Gold?

23 January 2014
Those of us old enough to remember the Bicentennial in 1988 may remember, tucked in amongst the tall ships and flyovers and national backslapping, seeing Aboriginal people protest on the streets. I asked my father what they were protesting, and he repeated whatever Alan Jones and John Laws were saying about it. I really couldn't understand. It was a big party. Other countries were giving us presents. There was going to be fireworks. Fireworks! Why couldn't they just be happy?

I've grown up since then, well enough to realise that for Aboriginal people, what is referred to as "Australia Day" represents the loss of their millennia-old culture, laws, traditions, way of life; the genocide (I can't put it any more mildly for that would be a lie) that began the day a few creaky ships bearing the dregs of British society invaded their nation. I've grown up, and decent people have grown up, but large numbers of Australians haven't, refusing to recognise history, applying their racist filter to the events which shaped the Australian nation. In fact, it's getting worse. Those of us who can remember the Bicentennial will remember it was celebrated in shades of the national colours, green and gold; these are now barely to be seen, replaced by the overwhelming pervasiveness of the flag. Somewhere in between Australia Day has gone from an insensitive and cheesy display of national pride to a violent and scary flag-draped triumph of jingoism.

Not an improvement

Somewhere along the lway, under the "Fortress Australia" mentality of the Howard government, Australia Day became a thuggish, politicised display of unthinking loyalty and racism. But even as figures are released showing Australia Day is the most violent public holiday, companies are rushing to appeal to the racist bogan market. You can if you choose show your national allegiance by wrapping your drunk sweaty body in the flag, farting through Australian flag boardshorts and letting your kid crap on Australian flag nappies. Even that's not enough for some, with several major retailers releasing apparel reading "AUSTRALIA EST. 1788". The companies in question were quick to pull the items after a social media backlash, but some rushed to defend the items, claiming that the companies were caving to the demands of political correctness. But it's not political incorrectness we have a problem with, it's historical inaccuracy.

There is zero historical basis for saying that Australia was established as a nation in 1788. That happened on January 1, 1901. The colony of NSW was formed as a penal settlement in 1788, it's true - and based on the historical fiction of terra nullius, that the land was unoccupied, it's original inhabitants deemed less than human. Using this to claim Australia was founded in 1788 is a stretch of truth so far as to give one whiplash. Now, this is all a bit much for your average keyboard warrior posting racist invectives on Facebook to comprehend, but what if the ignorance originates higher up?

Dumped Katter's Australia party candidate, former Army intelligence (ahem) officer and homophobe-about-town Bernard Gaynor claims in his latest blog post that at the Australian Defence Force Academy in 2000, a lecturer in Australian Colonial Studies instructed these future leaders of the Australian Defence Forces that Aboriginal Australians had no civilisation prior to colonisation. If true, this is absolutely appalling. Why would a lecturer at the country's elite military academy, aligned with UNSW, one of our top educational institutions, get away with saying such incorrect rubbish? We often hear the right carry on about "their taxes" paying for this and that. Well, I wonder how Aboriginal Australians feel about their taxes paying for the military to spout such nonsense?

Because it's not politically incorrect - it's just wrong. You know, like we were taught as children, right and wrong. Prior to 1788, Aboriginal society was incredibly diverse and complex. There were complex systems of law and trade; concepts of mathematics; kinship, spirituality, an understanding of the land, how to manage it and how to revere it; many language families and relations between language groups; and extensive oral histories passing all this down. This was the civilisation that was largely destroyed upon colonisation, a civilisation which, if you hold the untruth that Australia was established in 1788, you must deny the existence of.

There's much talk in the national media at the moment about what should be included in the national curriculum, with many espousing greater teaching of Australia's Christian heritage. Perhaps, but we can't begin to understand where we come from as a people - let alone being to redress the wrongs of the past - without ensuring every Australian schoolchild learns Aboriginal studies; learns of the incredible society and civilisation of Aboriginal Australians and the devastating effect of colonisation. This is not "pre-history", it's just our history. For those who've finished school, it's not too late to learn. As a starting point, I recommend the excellent books by Richard Broome, who as well as imparting the history, gives a very real sense of the horror the Cadigal people must have felt on seeing the invading ships arrive and destroy their way of life. There are many excellent writers and activists we can learn of Aboriginal Australia from - such as The Koori Woman1 Deadly Nation, and Start Some Good. Follow the curated account Indigenous X on Twitter. Remember Warren Mundine does not speak for all Aboriginal people and neither does anyone else (I'm not claiming to speak for them at all, not being Aboriginal myself). Learn a little. Fixing the ignorance about the flag and Australia day won't solve the problems of Aboriginal Australia, but the "Est. 1788" t-shirts are symptomatic of a nation that can't even be bothered to try.


  1. Normally I agree with everything you say Niko but not on this but if there is one thing spending so much time in Germany has taught me is that we should never feel guilty or ashamed of our past. Once you go down that road, as the German's have done, then your entire society changes for the worst.

    To give you an example. The city I lived in, Weimar. It's more well known today for Buchenwald then for anything else in it's history. This is despite the city being at the forefront of the Protestant Reformation, 30 Years War, it is where true democracy kicked off in Germany and it has played host the likes of Bach, Cranach, Goethe, Schiller, Anna Amalia, Casper, David Friedrich, Christoph Wieland, Martin Luther, Johann Herder, Franz Liszt, Gropius and Henry van de Veld just to name a few.

    You can repeat this throughout many other German cities. Yet, despite the history, despite the massive contribution to Western Civilisation, Germany and the German people are made to feel ashamed over a small part of their history, despite all of the positives that has come out of the nation.

    Yes it's important to learn about history, both the good and the bad. But we should not be made to feel ashamed about it.

  2. Unadulterated, Cultural Marxist bullshit.
    Why do you hate yourself and your nation so much?

    You have written a thoroughly contemptible incitement to "white guilt" idiots to encourage Aborigines to wallow permanently in victimhood. And of course, have a permanent entitlement mentality.

    I ran out of spit.

    1. I am delighted to know my post made a factually inaccurate racist spew so much bile you had to clean your screen.


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