The Informer: Our Australia Day conversation must longer than 24 hours

Can our Australia Day conversation last more than 24 hours?

Australia went down its annual path of snags and flags today but, as has been the case more recently, also dipped its metaphorical toes into the pool that is the national psyche.

For many January 26 is an entirely unsatisfactory attempt at a day of national significance. Let's hope the conversation lasts more than the usual 24 hours. (Perhaps we media types need to pop a post-it note on the fridge by way of a reminder to continue the discussion into, say, February.)

You get the feeling with people of basketballer Patty Mills' stature, along with Tasmania's Young Australian of the Year Kaytlyn Johnson and our 2022 Aussie of the Year, Dylan Alcott, communication will not be a problem.

And while we have spent years inching towards gender equity in the honours system - 47 per cent of the honours have gone to women, gender equality hasn't penetrated the top ranks yet. But neither has equity across other measurables either.

As Jenna Price wrote today: " We need local action. And we still need serious collection of all the relevant data. Yes, we must know how many Indigenous people have had awards. Yes, we need to know how many migrants and those who came from other countries to help this one have been honoured. That is the only way to ensure these awards reflect our Australia."

Of course January 26 is not just about awards. There were meaningful events across the nation which expressed Indigenous sentiment. In Tasmania, in Ballarat and, of course, in the national capital.

While the push for land rights and sovereignty was still critical, one of the Canberra march organisers said, it was also about honouring ancestors and the traditional owners of the land.

"It's about acknowledgement and honouring our ancestors, the founding families and traditional owners of country," Paul Girrawah House said. It was a sentiment echoed across the country.

Meanwhile, on the COVID front, NSW recorded another 21,030 new infections today, taking the state past the one million mark exactly two years and one day after the first case was recorded in Australia.

On the other side of the country, in Western Australia, there was a relatively whopping 24 new cases overnight, with a Wheatbelt case and a mystery case among the new infections.

Might be best not to tell WA Premier Mark McGowan about the state of the nation in France right now where you guessed, the virus is running rife.

French health authorities registered 501,635 new infections in Monday's 24-hours reporting period. And, just like Australia, numbers are traditionally always down of a Monday. So that's meant anyone unvaccinated or not yet recovered from the virus can no longer access restaurants, bars, cultural institutions, sporting events and long-distance trains.


This story Can our Australia Day conversation last more than 24 hours? first appeared on The Canberra Times.