On Australia Day I fly the national flag from our front balcony. From both directions along our street it can be seen. Never once have I thought this action is a political statement. Until now.
Australians tend to shy away from overt displays of politics. Yes, we vote; that is a given in a compulsory voting system. But looking around the suburbs, among the callistemons, camellias or cacti, you would never know your neighbours’ political opinions or voting intentions. This is not to say they, or we, do not have them. It is just that we do not ordinarily share them with the neighbours via lawn signs and other showy displays. It is not our thang!
However, flying the flag is something different. Flag flying became de rigueur during the Sydney Olympics in 2000 when we were all encouraged to get behind our sporting heroes. As a sporting nation, this was not a hard thing to do.
From then on Australia Day really became a “fun-ly” patriotic day of BBQs, sporting activities and free events organised by community groups, state governments and town councils. Business got into the act by sponsoring different activities and events, both locally and nationally. All manner of Aussie themed merchandise from bunting and napkins to beach towels and bikinis gave retail sales a lift between Christmas and Easter, and for which the big (and small retailers) were truly thankful. Along with the AOTY awards, fireworks displays and citizenship ceremonies, the Australian Open, and what was once the Adelaide Test Match fixture, this was a day to celebrate being Australian.
My Australia Day flag flying has always fitted perfectly with the tenor of the day: pride in the Australian way of life, pride in its people and their achievements, and pride in our past and in our future.
This year, numerous large and important companies decided to ignore the day because of the ubiquitous “diversity and inclusion.” Some companies have even offered to allow their employees to work and take another day off at some other time. Message to these imbeciles, many people work on Australia Day and on the other national days and holidays throughout the year. Working Australia Day does not mean that Australia Day is of no importance to those workers. But such statements fit nicely with the current fashion to delegitimise us and our national day.
Will I take down the flag? Not on your life! Will I fly the flag on January 26 next year? You betcha! Today, I made a political statement.