With the Invasion Day/Abolish Australia Day brigade losing influence over the past year they have come up with a new theme and hashtag for their 2020 Australia Day protest #paytherent.
Since one of their slogans and arguments against Australia Day is that sovereignty of the continent was never ceded, this year they proposed that white Australians the “invaders” should pay the rent due on the land for the past 250 years.
The biggest Invasion Day protest does not take place in a disadvantaged remote indigenous township but in inner-city modern Melbourne by local residents of Aboriginal descent.
Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance
The organiser of the Melbourne protest is the Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR). Its most high profile member is Tarneen Onus-Williams who famously said on Australia Day 2018 “Fuck Australia, hope it fucking burns to the ground”. (This summer some would argue she got her wish).
Another prominent participant in Melbourne’s Invasion Day protest is Lidia Thorpe who was briefly the Greens member for Northcote in Victorian State Parliament who last year told Kerri-Anne Kennerley she needed to give up her white privilege before visiting indigenous communities.
With the Extinction Rebellion protests and Australia suffering one of its worst bushfire seasons WAR are calling upon their Facebook followers to help them remind others about why Australia Day should be abolished. They have designed this poster/flyer
Do We Pay the Rent?
It is worth briefly analyzing this new #paytherent slogan given the billions the Australian federal government spends on Aboriginal welfare, assistance, and community building every year in the federal budget. Then there is of course state and local government expenditure.
According to the Indigenous affairs overview in the 2019-20 Budget Review in the 2015-16 financial year, the federal government directly spent $14.7 billion on Indigenous people. In the context of total budget expenditure, the federal government spends 1.5 times as much on Indigenous people on a per-capita basis, or1.64 times as much if indirect spending such as transfers to the states and territories are included.
On average federal expenditure on Indengious-Australians is approximately double the per capita expenditure on non-Indigenous Australians.
Looking at those budget and expenditure statistics it would appear pretty obvious to most that non-Indigenous Australias are paying their annual rent of the land, if you accept the premise of the #paytherent campaign.
But when Australia was settled by the British the land itself was largely barren. The buildings, roads, houses, and technology we all enjoy today were constructed after British settlement. Non-indigenous Australians have certainly contributed to the increase in the value of the land over the past 250 years.
The Slow Death of the Anti-Australia Day Movement
But while they still have the support of the Greens and other far-left socialist and anarchist groups the anti-Australia movement continues to lose mainstream support. A newly published poll found that 71% of Australians supported Australia Day being held on January 26th, only 11% favoured a date change.
After their federal election loss last year new Labor leader Anthony Albanese appears to be taking the party away from its flirtation with the change the date campaign. Albo has backed Australia Day continuing to be January 26th and called the annual protests against it a “counterproductive” culture war.
Yes, protestors still have most of the mainstream media and the Twitter-sphere on their side. But those mediums have continued to be exposed as completely unrepresentative of actual public opinion and sentiment.
The Quiet Australians love our national day, taking part in its festivities, new arrivals continue to choose January 26th to become Australian citizens, retail outlets continue to successfully sell Australia Day merchandise, and of course, backyard barbeques continue to be a tradition of the day,