- The Daily Telegraph
- January 10, 2014
DISCOUNT supermarket chain Aldi was correct to pull an Australia Day T-shirt and singlet carrying the message “Australia Est. 1788” from its stores.
It was inaccurate, though that was not the point the Twitterati hoped to make. Australia wasn’t officially branded as such until navigator Matthew Flinders decided to give the landmass the name in 1804. As he wrote to his brother: “I call the whole island Australia, or Terra Australis.”
Australia the independent nation wasn’t established until 1901, but that’s hardly the point. Those who have been protesting to Aldi via knee-jerk antisocial media are the usual attention-seeking rabble who come out around Australia Day to reiterate the never disputed point that there were people living on the continent before 1788.
No one has argued with that – no one – but as usual the professional activists get their moment in the spotlight as they did when, egged on by spin doctors within the office of former minority Labor prime minister Julia Gillard, they discredited themselves with their disgraceful riot outside Canberra’s Lobby restaurant on Australia Day, 2012.
To find the “Australia Est. 1788” slogan racist is finding a wrongdoing where none could have been identified except by a Salem witch hunter circa 1692.
This continent didn’t have one name when it was occupied by successive migrations over the past 40,000 years. The inhabitants only gave specific names to their areas, with generalised names for regions beyond their range.
Aldi and Big W, which removed items bearing similar slogans, have paid a big price in bowing to the humourless watchdogs.
Reports of backdowns to the internet twits in the Fairfax media noted the “seven designs had been approved by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in July last year, after passing guidelines regarding products bearing the Australian flag”.
That would be the department responsible to former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd, whose empty apology to indigenous Australians captivated the luvvies but left indigenous people as poorly-educated and lacking in health resources or employment opportunities as they were before the Canberra love-in.
How racist and culturally-insensitive was that?