SQUABBLING and point-scoring is the sunburned land’s flavour of the season once January appears on the calendar.
For a country that has largely been free of riots and civil war during its century of existence, we are reasonably adept at launching some animated debates around Australia Day.
Whatever the topic of choice seems to be, every year we seemed to get trapped into debating the merits of the flag, anthem or our approach to multiculturalism.
While it’s all part of living in a healthy democracy, some of us act like ageing aunties criticising each other’s weight and commenting about who has the most wrinkles on January 26.
So, for the sake of national unity, throw some “shrimp on the barbie”, switch on the cricket and examine this list of age-old pointless arguments, guaranteed to entertain the whole family. Or at least encourage more bickering.
Melbourne v Sydney
Paul Keating once said if you’re “not living in Sydney, you’re just camping out”. Sydneysiders believe their Harbour Bridge and Opera House seal up their claim to being the nation’s only “world city”. Melbournites cling to their belief that they have better coffee, streetscapes and art galleries. New Year’s Eve is where this rivalry was really tested a few weeks ago. Melbourne was so keen to out-perform Sydney per fireworks tonnage that they managed to set fire to the Arts Centre spire in the process. Which was, coincidently, built to be the city’s landmark in order to compete with the Opera House.
Rugby league v Australian rules
This one is closely related to the first debate subject. Continental Europe has language barriers, Great Britain has social classes and Australia has football codes. North of the Murray, the names Barrasi, Sheedy and Hird are of little consequence. Conversely, no one could care less about Vaughan, Lewis and Meninga in the AFL states. Despite all their respective finger-pointing, both codes are guilty of television crimes against humanity for inflicting the The Footy Show on an unsuspecting public.
Shrimp v Prawns
Many Americans have some pretty strange ideas about day-to-day life “Down Under”. Some are imagined, others are the result of Australians telling tall tales. The way we advertise our country abroad has contributed to these misperceptions. Many remember the Paul Hogan commercial telling Americans he’d “throw another shrimp on the barbie” to entice them to Sydney, Ayer’s Rock and, at a stretch, Bowral. Yet, this country calls those tasty seafood morsels “prawns”. Say what you like about Hogan and his film Crocodile Dundee, at least it means most in the United States have some understanding of Australia. Even if it’s reptile wrestling on the floor of the Walkabout Creek pub.
Down Under v Great Southern Land
When it comes to unofficial national anthems, it’s really a contest between these two. Some will claim that Waltzing Matilda holds that title although a proud nation like Australia can do better than a song about sheep theft. Bruce Woodley’s I Am Australian and Peter Allen’s I Still Call Australia Home are well-intentioned but they’re a bit too soppy. Be warned. There will always be one person that will suggest Ted Mulry Gang’s Jump in My Car as a third option. They will also attempt to sing the lyrics. You know who they are.