Actor Ben Lawson’s Rousing Poem Points Out What’s Wrong With Australia Day

Ben Lawson

Trigger Warning: This article contains references to genocide, Aboriginal death and rape.

Australian actor, Ben Lawson, has released a follow-up poem to his viral success My Country from an Expat which came out during the Bushfires in January 2020.

Now the soon-to-be Firefly Lane star has written a piece taking aim at January 26 – Australia Day.

Titled The 26th of January, Lawson’s poem is a sardonic recollection of our checkered history and mistreatment of First Nation’s people.

Lawson uses sarcasm as a tool to support the “change the date” movement, one that asks us to rethink the day if it is meant to be an occasion that all Australians can accept and enjoy.

Throughout the poem, Lawson refers to Arthur Phillip arriving at Sydney Cove, raising the national flag of the United Kingdom on 26 January 1788.


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Go grab your mate and celebrate the good old Aussie way
The twenty-sixth of January, oh, what a bloody day!

From Nowra, out to Cowra, up to Darwin, down to Perth,
we raise an ice-cold tinnie to the greatest place on earth.

We party and we barbie in the backyard or the beach,
and all of life’s odd problems feel a little out of reach…

But, being woke, I get some folks might be a touch irate
the thing you’ve got to understand is this: it’s just a date!

Yes, pound for pound some sixty thousand years is quite entrenched,
But our boy Arty Pip rocked up nigh on the 19th cench.

In turn as far as we’re concerned it’s then that things began,
Your history, while great I’m sure, well that’s an also-ran

And yes those uninvited guests were not exactly chill
They made light work of your mob, hey? They took out half a mil!

We dead set get the bloodshed that arrived with that first fleet…
But that last week in January, the weather can’t be beat!

What’s that you say? There’s more at play before we’re done recapping?
Oh yes, I guess we’ve also dabbled in some light kidnapping.

I can’t deny, we thought we’d try to breed out all that black
In truth, it didn’t work too well, but geez, we had a crack!

I’m appealing to your feelings ‘bout he whole “assimilation”
We thought it might look neat as a monochromatic nation.

We’ve erred but unperturbed we’d really like to make amends
‘Cause come on, what’s a smidgen of eugenics between friends?

And after all, we took the fall, and ultimately patched it
When Ruddy took it on the chin and buried that old hatchet

Prior to Kevin in sixty-seven, we got hip to the beat
And counted you as citizens – that must have been a treat!

In fairness though, awareness was not emphasized in school
The heroes of our history were Euros as a rule.

We never, whatsoever, learned apportioning of spoils
I had to learn of land rights by just… listening to The Oils.

For shame, I never heard the names: Lingiari, Burnam, Clague.
But then again, there’s every chance, that I was sick that day

We know the drill, things went downhill, when white man first arrived,
Don’t focus on the bad bits though, it’s just some genocide

And blackface isn’t lacking taste, that’s just a bit of fun
And when we booed at Goodsey, well, could have been anyone!

Despite “It’s OK to be white” ‘Cause well, that’s not a slag.
The union might mean jack to you, but hell, it’s just a flag!

You don’t agree we’re young and free, but guys, it’s just an anthem!
And sure I gave my Ford a nickname, no need for a tantrum!

And Jimmy Cook is off the hook, he wouldn’t try to sully us
All I can say is that it must have looked like terra nullius!

We all salute a better future that’s for sure, but mate
today we’re gonna party like it’s seventeen eighty-eight

Our stance is although we’ve advanced, Australia isn’t fair
So come on take the hand out and we’ll all just call it square.

You’ve had a truck of rotten luck both here and in the Straits,
But now just doesn’t work for us to meddle round with dates.

Our schedules are somewhat full to have a conversation,
our kids might have more time if you can wait a generation.

Our hope is you can focus on the sausages and steak,
And not your great-great grandmother’s strong likelihood of rape.

It’s painful and a stain and though we’d love to lend a hand,
the kids go back to school next month, and well, you understand.

I’m sorry mate, but thems the brakes, it’s just the Aussie way
The twenty-sixth of January, oh, what a bloody day.

By Ben Lawson

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