If your only way of finding out about what’s happening in this country is either by listening to ABC or reading the Guardian, you’d think the entire country is embarrassed about being Australian, wracked with guilt about Australia’s history and overwhelmingly opposed to celebrating Australia Day on January 26.
Indeed, you’d likely wind up mistakenly thinking that there is a groundswell of anger from mainstream, everyday Australians who believe that Australia Day is by far the most pressing issue facing Australians in 2019.
However, a poll commissioned by the Institute of Public Affairs and which was conducted by Research Now, has revealed that this is exactly the opposite to what mainstream Australians really think about themselves as Australians, their history and their values.
In fact, Australians are fundamentally optimistic and positive about being Australian.
The results of the poll show that 87 per cent of Australians are proud to be Australian, while a tiny 3 per cent are not.
When it comes to Australia’s history, 76 per cent of the respondents believe this country has a history to be proud of, while only 11 per cent did not.
The polling also found that 75 per cent of Australians think that we should continue to celebrate Australia Day on January 26 while only 10 per cent actually want the date to be changed. Chances are that if you polled the Canberra Press Gallery with the same questions, the numbers would be significantly different.
These results expose the massive divide between the majority of Australians and the minority of vocal individuals who continually push the narrative of national self-loathing and self-flagellation on to everyday Australians.
The results simply reveal that there is an enormous disconnect between what Australians think about themselves, and what we are being told Australians think about themselves.
Every year, when Australia Day comes around, elements of the media, the political class and a small but noisy group of activists on Twitter, pull out all stops to impose their own version of Australia’s history on the nation.
They are, however, completely and utterly out of touch with mainstream Australia.
Not only are they out of touch, but it seems that the more strident they are in their opposition and the more they obsess about changing the date, the more that Australians want to keep the date.
When the Institute of Public Affairs asked the same question about Australia Day in 2018, 70 per cent of Australians were favour. This year, the number has gone up to 75 per cent. The poll also shows that young people are not being drawn to the divisive argument of opposing our national day.
The more this vocal, activist minority pushes its agenda down their throats, the less inclined everyday Australians are to go along with it.
The poll found that last year 17 per cent of young Australians between the ages of 18-24 said that Australia Day should not be celebrated on January 26. This year’s poll shows that, that number has plummeted to just 8 per cent. They, like the majority of Australians know that there are more important issues to think about.
The incessant hounding of the public by activists is having the opposite effect than they intend.
Similarly, our political class likes to present the issue of freedom of speech and freedom of religion as fringe cultural issues being pushed by a small number of conservatives.
Yet again, the poll reveals that the opposite is true.
When asked what they thought about these values, a whopping 92 per cent of the respondents considered freedom of speech to be an important Australian value while 77 per cent said freedom of religion was an important Australian value.
Again, this exposes the disconnect between mainstream Australians and our political class.
Many of the left-wing activists that will be taking part in protests on January 26 have moved on from the change-the-date campaign and are advocating the abolition of Australia Day all together. These activists will never be happy until there is no celebration of our successful, liberal, prosperous, modern nation.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is right when he says there is a majority of “quiet Australians’’ who aren’t obsessed with the issues pushed by the Canberra bubble or a noisy minority. He was right to come down hard on radical local councils who are refusing to hold citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day.
The Federal government is correct to insist that citizenship ceremonies should be celebrated on the 26th because it is the federal government that gives councils the power to hold them.
The government is perfectly entitled to take away that power from rebellious councils such as Darebin in Victoria, which last year actively encouraged people to go to work on January 26 and take another day off.
Critics of the Prime Minister’s decision have said this is a “public relations stunt designed to further divide this country’’ but the refusal to participate in celebrating Australia as a united country is the truly divisive force.
January 26 marks the foundation of modern Australia and it should be celebrated by all Australians. Rather than being ashamed of it, we should be proud of it.
On January 26 the majority of Australians will be rejecting the overwhelmingly negative rhetoric about this nation’s history.
They will not be out in the streets in force, but they will be with friends and family, celebrating what it is to be Australian.