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It’s getting hot in here, Australia: let’s cool it, as a matter of honour

Should Court have won this award? It depends what you think the Order of Australia is for. Many of those honoured win gongs for actions that have already made them rich, famous or otherwise successful. Quite a few billionaires have ACs. Court joins Kerry Packer and Rupert Murdoch at the Order of Australia’s top table. Do we ordinary Australians really need to add to their multitude of plaudits?

If we need an Order of Australia at all – and, like much that was originally associated with the monarchy, it’s not entirely clear to me that we do – it should be reserved for acts that benefit the community first and foremost. I’d rather we paid tribute to volunteer firefighters, surf lifesavers, charity workers, groundbreaking artists, and scientists who have dedicated themselves to research that benefits humanity. Margaret Court played for her country with great distinction once, but her recent period in public life has been full of code violations.

What if Bunnings invaded Shark Park?

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It’s January, so we’re arguing about Australia Day, again, with the same weary fervour we used to experience when the republic was brought up. Our national day has metastasized into an annual culture war, where some point out that it’s ludicrous to hold a party on the anniversary of a culture-decimating unauthorised maritime arrival, and others tell them they’re un-Australian – or, as Scott Morrison told Cricket Australia this week, stay out of politics and stick to cricket.

But Australia Day is supposed to be about cricket. When I was a kid, my parents and their friends held a glorious annual match in Centennial Park, with a picnic and much jollity. As an adult, I’ve often spent the day traditionally – that is, bowling a tennis ball at a plastic bin while someone tries to slog it for six.

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Our national day should be about barbecues and swims and one-hand-one-bounce and everything else we love about our country. It shouldn’t be consumed by an argument, and it shouldn’t actively upset First Nations people, and those who care about their feelings.

Let me put the problem in the PM’s preferred terms. If Bunnings bought Shark Park, and flattened it to build a Warehouse, nobody would expect Sharkies fans to come and eat snags at the opening party. Sure, those fans might love Bunnings, and buy their inflatable shark-riding Santas there. But diehard Cronulla fans wouldn’t celebrate their dispossession, would they?

Morrison might also recall a historic day when a PM changed our national anthem because it was problematic in light of our Indigenous history – namely him, a few weeks back. It was the right thing to do, because national symbols should include everybody, just like good parties and unproblematic national days.

Besides, Morrison himself acknowledges that most of the First Fleet weren’t exactly celebrating on January 26, 1788, given the whole “penal servitude for stealing bread” thing. The Gadigal people clearly didn’t enjoy it, and even Captain Phillip must have been hoping he wouldn’t find land so he could go home instead. In other words, an intense dislike of January 26 dates back to 1788.

Changing the date will be one of those things where nobody believes it took us so long, like dumping God Save The Queen (1977), equal voting rights for Indigenous Australians (1984), and same-sex marriage (2017). History will look kindly on the leader who fixes it. So why not make like a Bunnings customer, Prime Minister, and do it yourself?

A more Aussie Australia Day

How about January 2, commemorating the day we officially became, y’know, Australia, on January 1, 1901? While it’s not the actual day of federation, who cares when this choice guarantees a four-day long weekend most years – or a second weekend, right when we need one?

Those sensible Kiwis have a public holiday simply called the Day After New Year’s Day. Let’s make ours into Australia Day, then claim we came up with the idea before NZ did, like pavlova, lamingtons and cheating by bowling an entire over underarm – actually, I don’t think they claim that last one.

It’s January, so we’re arguing about Australia Day again, with the same weary fervour we used to experience when the republic was brought up. Our national day has metastasised into an annual culture war, where some point out that it’s ludicrous to hold a party on the anniversary of a culture-decimating unauthorised maritime arrival, and others tell them they’re un-Australian – or, as Scott Morrison told Cricket Australia this week, stay out of politics and stick to cricket.

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But Australia Day is supposed to be about cricket. When I was a kid, my parents and their friends held a glorious annual match in Centennial Park, with a picnic and much jollity. As an adult, I’ve often spent the day traditionally – that is, bowling a tennis ball at a plastic bin while someone tries to slog it for six.

Our national day should be about barbecues and swims and one-hand-one-bounce and everything else we love about our country. It shouldn’t be about politics, except for a moment of shock when the government hands our highest honour to Prince Philip, Margaret Court, or perhaps Hillsong pastor Brian Houston – I haven’t yet seen the full list.

Let me put the issue in the PM’s preferred terms. If Bunnings bought Shark Park, and flattened it to build a warehouse, nobody would expect Sharkies fans to come and eat snags at the opening party. Sure, those fans might love Bunnings, and buy their inflatable shark-riding Santas there. But diehard Cronulla fans wouldn’t celebrate their dispossession, would they?

Scott Morrison might also recall a historic day when a PM changed our national anthem because it was problematic in light of our Indigenous history – namely him, a few weeks back. It was the right thing to do, because national symbols should include everybody, just like good parties and unproblematic national days.

Besides, Morrison himself acknowledges that most of the First Fleet weren’t exactly celebrating on January 26, 1788, given the whole ”penal servitude for stealing bread” thing. The Gadigal people clearly didn’t enjoy it, and even Captain Phillip must have been hoping he wouldn’t find land so he could go home instead. In other words, an intense dislike of January 26 dates back to 1788.

Changing the date of Australia Day will be one of those things where nobody believes it took us so long, like dumping God Save The Queen (1977), equal voting rights for Indigenous Australians (1984), and same-sex marriage (2017). History will look kindly on the leader who fixes it. So why not make like a Bunnings customer, Prime Minister, and do it yourself?

A more Aussie Australia Day

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How about January 2, commemorating the day we officially became, y’know, Australia, on January 1,1901? While it’s not the actual day of federation, who cares when this choice guarantees a four-day long weekend most years – or a second weekend, right when we need one?Also, this date would give us two days to recover from New Year’s Eve, and you can’t get more Aussie than that.

Those sensible Kiwis have a public holiday simply called the Day After New Year’s Day. Let’s make ours into Australia Day, then claim we came up with the idea before NZ did, like pavlova, lamingtons and cheating by bowling an entire over underarm – actually, I don’t think they claim that last one.

A world of Paine at the Gabba

It wasn’t Australia’s day at the Fourth Test either. But India were so excellent that we had to acknowledge that not only did the better side win – the better side’s understudies won.

Indian players celebrate after defeating Australia by three wickets on the final day of the fourth cricket test at the Gabba.

Indian players celebrate after defeating Australia by three wickets on the final day of the fourth cricket test at the Gabba.Credit:AP

Their fearless transformation of a tense run chase into a T20 slogfest made for one of the most entertaining Test finales ever, after a wonderful series. If the PM must lobby Cricket Australia, can he suggest this fixture expand to five Tests, like the Ashes? And if our batting doesn’t improve, we may need to incinerate a few pairs of gloves to make a trophy.

Hey, Joe – and Kamala

Despite the fears of another insurrection – and QAnonistas’ hopes of a last-minute mass arrest – the USA has changed leaders with a smoothness that was unimaginable a fortnight ago, when those same Capitol steps were stormed by a violent mob. I woke up to watch the new team being sworn in, and gloriously upstaged not just by the poet Amanda Gorman, but Bernie Sanders, simply sitting and glowering in a khaki jacket and mittens. As cold as it was, everyone was feeling the Bern.

Biden’s address contained his usual appeals to American values and bipartisanship. His opponents will reject them as though they were climate science, but at least Biden was more rhetorically elegant than the”‘suck it, we won.. that might have tempted less dignified leaders.

The US has rebooted itself, hopefully with a more effective virus cleaner installed. But we shouldn’t lose sight of how extraordinary it is that Kamala Devi Harris is now Vice President. She has already made history with every job she’s held in public life – and conducts herself with enormous gravitas and elegance whenever she’s not being photographed by Vogue. Who would bet against her to take that final step to the top job in a few years?

Well, we know who – he currently resides in uncustomary silence in South Florida. But Kamala Harris has overcome bigger odds, and defeated more talented men, to get where she is. Her success goes beyond partisan politics – it is America’s.

Dom Knight is an author and radio presenter

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