Why doesn’t our PM want to change the date of Australia Day? His ancestor was at the centre of the invasion it celebrates.
Malcolm Turnbull has been missing in action in all the big debates of the last few years. He’s gone silent on the need for action about climate change, he left the quest for marriage equality in the hands of the ABS, and instead of establishing Australia’s independence in the face of unstable US leadership, he’s almost disappeared up Donald Trump’s arsehole.
So it’s been a surprise to see him fired up in his defence of Australia Day this year. This is the man who headed up the campaign for an Australian Republic. Changing Australia’s head of state is a bigger deal than shifting a once-yearly piss up that marks the anniversary of the opening of a prison colony on stolen land. Why is Malcolm finally taking a stand?
His passion for the day is clearer when you learn that, according to family legend, his great-great-great-great-great-grandpa, Owen Cavanough, was the first Englishman to set foot on land at Sydney Cove on January 26, 1788.
It’s easy to imagine Turnbull at his harbourside mansion in Point Piper, raising a flute of Champagne each Australia Day. Of course he’s not toasting modern Australia, where people from nations across the globe have made a home. He’s not toasting the egalitarian society we’ve strived towards, where free education and healthcare is seen as a right.
He’s definitely not thinking about indigenous people suffering for generations in the wake of white settlement. If anything he’s thinking about how lucky the First Australians were to meet Mr Cavanough, who history would remember as the forebear of that one-and-only great: Malcolm Turnbull.
Turnbull’s petulant speech after his election victory, where he was upset the Australian public didn’t realise how lucky they were to have him lead them; his habit of turning the daily commute into selfie shoots; the way he sheds every professed belief so he can cling to power; over the last few years it’s become abundantly clear: for Malcolm it’s always about Malcolm.
The PM’s most recent show of unbridled egotism – dismissing the real pain of indigenous Australians as he celebrates his own family’s questionable achievements – only reminds us that while Australia’s leader boasts wealth his compatriots can barely dream of, the man is morally bankrupt.
Photo by Michael Masters used under this licence.