“How Long will it take? How long do we wait? When we gonna get a new flag?” – exactly what Urthboy asks in his song “Empire Tags” on his most recent full album release “Smokey’s Haunt“, and it’s a question I can’t get out of my mind.
Urthy hits the nail on the head with the following lyric:
“From a time when the empire tagged the globe, We ain’t cleaned that graffiti off the front of our home”
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A reminder to those of us whose care to remember that modern day Australia is a nation established for the greed of the British Empire through the genocide of Indigenous peoples.
A nation just like so many others around the globe – from Africa to American, India to New Zealand, Singapore to Canada – where Indigenous people were virtually wiped off the map to fuel superiority complexes and high-consumption lifestyles of British empire elites.
But unlike many other former British colonial nations, Australia has NOT yet managed to remove subservience to the British from our national political tradition.
The “Queen’s representative” still holds the highest office in our nation, the position of Governor General – with the power to dissolve Parliament. Our various state flags all have as their only common feature, the Union Jack waving proudly in the top left corner – in a position of importance above all else. A recent visit from the Queen even led to Parliament introducing “Special Powers” legislation allowing for the suspension of all basic legal rights for Australian citizens should they happen to come within a certain distance of her majesty for any reason, even when going to work.
That’s not the Australia I am proud of. That’s the Australia which makes me ashamed, which I denounce and encourage others to rid themselves of where-ever possible. The Australia I am from, the one I was taught to love through experience is Australia at its best – multicultural Australia.
The Australia reflected in our embracing of Indigenous sporting heroes, the prominence of delicious cuisines from all across the globe; French, Italian, Indian, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Middle Eastern, Mexican and so many more. It’s the mish-mash of languages spoken on University campuses and the smell of clove cigarettes. It’s in the stories of former refugees who finally found safety and a place to build new lives, here, in a nation which allows them to become truly important members of society such as doctors, educators, lawyers or politicians – or even just to raise their children in a place of peace.
NOT the Australia evidenced in the eyes and words of middle-class White Australian’s espousing racial hatred on public transport, claiming this land as theirs to dictate over. NOT the Australia which denigrates and demonizes asylum seekers, locking up genuine refugees for years at a time. NOT the Australia in which Members of Parliament tell Indigenous Australians they need to “get over” colonialism and deny’s the existence of stolen generations. It is the dominance of THAT type of Australia I see as being reflected and perhaps supported by making the Union Jack a primary state symbol in Australia, and THAT is why it shouldn’t be there.
If we ever want to see an end to racism and white supremacy in Australia, we have to get rid of the Union Jack. Our national symbols need to espouse tolerance, equality and diversity. They need to be unique and uniting designs, agreed upon by all Australian’s.
The Union Jack is a hang-over from a bygone era where Australian’s were subservient to a colonial master and that is why I say FUCK THE UNION JACK.