AT least the pandemic has achieved one positive. The annual argument about the suitability of January 26 as the date for Australia Day has been pushed into the background this year.
The January 26 date doesn't have a long and glorious tradition. It was only adopted by all Australian states and territories in 1935. Before then it was held on various days in July and even that didn't start until after World War I.
Critics, quite rightly, argue that January 26 isn't a day of celebration for Australia's Indigenous population. It's not Australia Day, it's Invasion Day, they claim, with justification.
And it wasn't all that long ago that the Australia Day holiday was always on the last Monday in January to give us what is really a great Australian tradition - a long weekend. The date didn't matter, Australia Day meant a day off work.
So changing the date shouldn't be a really big deal. But as yet no-one has come up with a more suitable day.
Be that as it may, Australia Day will be celebrated this Wednesday in Taree thanks to the efforts of the Combined Service Clubs of Taree. Australia Day celebrations here had previously been handled by Greater Taree City Council. However, when Greater Taree became part of MidCoast Council that all changed. The new council left it up to the individual areas to look after their Australia Day festivities - a fact not acknowledged by council until October 2019 in a front page Manning River Times story.
The service clubs moved swiftly to fill the void. Their first act was to return the function to the riverbank after GTCC had previously preferred Manning Entertainment Centre, an unsuitable venue for such an occasion.
The results of the last two years have been a credit to the organisers. On Wednesday there'll be the traditional breakfast and presentation of awards - including the Manning River Times Sportstar of the Year, while in the early evening there will be a concert featuring local performers. This show will end with fireworks at 9pm - the community contributing the $12,000 needed to make the display a reality.
So put the politics aside next Wednesday and enjoy the celebrations on the riverbank and thank those responsible for making it happen.
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