Australia celebrated its 200 year anniversary in 1988. Twelve years earlier, in 1976, America celebrated its bicentennial. My wife remembers eventually referring to it as the Bicentacky, as by the end of the year, every trinket and tawdry and/or kitschy item imaginable had been hawked to the American public.
Here is an example.
Or, you can link on over to a google site, and browse to your hearts content.
My wife and I live on the west coast of the US, and all the historic sites, and hoopla for the Bicentennial were on the east side of our continent, so maybe we were less than enthusiastic about the whole process, and just wanted it to be over.
However, for all the weariness with the whole thing, at least we all seemed to be on the same page. As the year plowed on, we were just wanting for that page to be turned, so we could get on with getting on.
Australia, seemed to be spared the above kitschiness. However, they had a whole different experience as the year approached and unrolled. As an aside, before I get into the various links, I might mention that in 1984, I believe, while visiting Australia, I had a lady tell me that the only areas that the blacks wanted, were where the tourist dollars were. At the time I was ignorant of the land rights question. The lady was also certain that Azaria Chamberlain was murdered by her mother, while they camped near Ayers Rock (now called Uluru), at the time, a popular opinion. A year or so ago, while on a tour of Australia, we met a squatter in the Northern Territories, who claimed that he had never seen a black around Ayers Rock, until the government started the land rights business. Against this background, let us delve into the Australian Bicentennial, or Bicentenary, as they called it.
First we have the official government take on it, that everything is ducky, and we all want to commemorate our nation.
Australia had a commercial, see the youtube version here,
The Royal Australian Bicentennial Concert was made into a movie with a 2 million dollar (Australian) Budget. It was released January 1988. Here is the IMDB info on it.
I also found a youtube link for a New South Wales (NSW) Royal Bicentennial Concert 1988. I do not know if they are one and the same.
Putting their money where their mouth was, We have a commemorative banknote.
Moving along, I found an interesting website: ‘ Australia Day‘ and at the end of the article, we note some dissension.
And then we head into the real opposition voice,
From which we have this interesting quote:
Indigenous protest over the ‘celebration of a nation’ instigated public debate concerning white and indigenous Australian history, the position of Aborigines in contemporary society and the possibilities of land rights and reconciliation in the future. This debate was mostly played out in the media; as the Sydney Morning Herald stated in its editorial on January 19 1988; ‘scarcely a day of the Bicentenary has passed when issues involving Aborigines and their “Year of Mourning” protests have not featured prominently’. The long march for justice, freedom and hope was successful in placing indigenous issues in the public consciousness.
Which seems to be a good introduction to our cartoon book, “Beyond A Joke, An Anti-bicentenary Cartoon Book”
The lead up to the year, and during the year there were problems.
And money problems
Politics as usual
Remember the youtube above?
On to the Re-enactments.
On page 61 of the book is an interesting comment:
On a trip to Alice Springs in 1987, Prime Minister Hawke announced that the Australian Government would like to come to an understanding with the Aboriginal people. The Aboriginal people suggested that perhaps the understanding might take the form of a Treaty but Pime Minister Hawke preferred to call it a ‘compact’ so that it didn’t get in the way of any understanding the Australian Government might have had with the Aboriginal people.
Which led to many cartoons using the word, ‘compact.’ Here are two.
Supreme court judges were known as Mr Justice. After a woman had the audacity to become a Supreme court judge, the ‘Mr’ was dropped, then added back in, then other convoluted terms, until finally it was just ‘justice.’ I am certain that had nothing in common with the above cartoon.
But would naturally lead into the Criminal Justice system.
In the US there is an urban myth that the US Army gave out blankets with smallpox germs to kill off Native Americans. There is a kernel of truth, in that back in colonial days, and the French and Indian War, and the siege of Fort Pitt, infected blankets and a handkerchief may have been given to visiting Indians. There was also some talk of further distribution of infected blankets.
And speaking of colonies,
Well, let us move on to more general items.
Then there is always misdirection
Until next time.