I have secretly wanted a Southern Cross tattoo for decades, and I defy anyone in 2014 not to think the worst of me for that.
My daughters certainly won’t let me get one. Neither will my sons.
But I am old enough to remember when the Southern Cross represented an almost spiritual love of nature; larrikinism and individuality; independence from colonialism; and unity against the evil powers that be.
Those are traits I consider at least partly representative of the amorphous Australian character, no matter whether you are indigenous, from convict stock, have colonial forebears or ones who came to the goldfields from China or emerged from war-torn Europe, Asia or Africa, or the religious strife in the Middle East.
I should have had the Southern Cross tatt done for my birthday 10 years ago because everything changed a year later.
On December 11, 2005, groups of yobs – many bearing Southern Cross tatts and carrying Australian flags – ran riot in Cronulla. Their racist slogans and aggression all but killed the Southern Cross tatt for many people and had a fair go at destroying any remaining unifying symbolism of the national flag.
Since then the Australian flag has been linked with slogans such as “If you don’t like it, leave”, which even appeared this week on T-shirts in a few Woolies stores. Shock jock Ray Hadley was outraged when Woolies pulled the T-shirts off the shelves…