Australia Day: fireworks and fallout
August 29, 2016 16 Comments
It is not every week that Fremantle makes the international media and the front page of national papers but our debate around the Australia Day fireworks did …well … cause a few fireworks.
The media response was diverse to say the least but Network Ten’s The Project was one of my favourites as did a great job of tackling the issue in a thoughtful but playful Australian way:
It was ironic that much of the mainstream media complained about how divisive this issue was but then went on to treat the issue in an overly simplistic and polarising manner. Too few media outlets were willing to reflect on or acknowledge how Australia Day is a difficult day for many Aboriginal Australians. This should have been an opportunity for an inclusive debate on a tough issue and it was a shame most weren’t ready for that. There is of course not a universal position on this among Aboriginal Australians but it was disappointing that the views of the Aboriginal elders in Fremantle (who largely support the Fremantle Council‘s decision) were not sought out and expressed.
I thought this SBS article though was a worthwhile nevertheless:
It was also interesting to see how the feedback from Freo people was largely in favour of the decision to do another kind of event. Outside of the Fremantle though the issues got a much more negative response and sadly brought out the nasty side of patriotism at times.
For the record, it is worth restating that Fremantle is not cancelling Australia Day. Australia Day will still happen and everyone can mark the day in which they feel most comfortable. Freo Council is merely no longer funding fireworks on that day as we have done for the past 6 years. We are instead using the money saved to do a range of other more inclusive family events which will still bring many thousands of people to Freo.
I can’t help but feel that there is a wider change afoot on this issue. If you need convincing of that I think this video is a good place to start: