Why are we so worked up over Australia Day merchandise?

Australia Day is still nine days away, but this situation with Woolworths not stocking Australia Day merchandise will not die down.

It’s reached a ridiculous level, with a Woolworths store in Brisbane vandalised with graffiti over the issue. I won’t use the words they wrote here, but let’s just say there was enthusiastic use of the Australian vernacular.

Here’s my take on it, and I realise this will not be popular.

When exactly did you last buy Australia Day merchandise from Woolworths? I’m guessing it’s been a while.

I am in close contact with several people who work in supermarkets, and they throw out more than they sell. That’s right, it’s not kept until next year; if it’s not sold it gets tossed out. They don’t have the room.

Do you buy it?

Who exactly is buying it? It’s generally nasty paper plates and cups and plastic flags, stubby holders, and maybe some thongs with the flag on them.

Woolworths is very good at selling stuff. It made a $1b-plus profit last year. It’s not in the habit of putting stuff on the shelves that doesn’t sell just because a politician looking for a headline thinks it’s a good idea.

Surely, if we are celebrating our national day we can do better.

Lamb on the barbie, a few friends with a few beverages sounds very Australian to me. Throwaway plastic props aren’t needed to set the atmosphere.

And for all those high-profile media types and politicians who have been leading this pointless charge, do you for one second think they are decorating their table with paper plates, plastic cups and flags and wearing thongs with the Australian flag on them while doing so? No, they wouldn’t be caught dead doing that. It’s hypocrisy of the highest order.

Can’t buy it from Woolworths? That’s okay, just go somewhere else and buy it there. Just do that, like you would with anything. It’s not that hard.

Making this into some sort of culture war is embarrassing. Australian patriotism is defined by not being overtly patriotic. We are not the US.

Getting worked up over a supermarket not selling plastic, made in China, disposable rubbish is a pointless waste of time and effort.

Let’s do better next year.

This week’s best deals


Sensible: Half-price on a range of sun-care products. Remember when going out in the sun meant drowning yourself in Reef Tan (I can still smell the coconut flavour) or baby oil. Thankfully those days are over, but sunblock is damned expensive. This week at Coles there are more than a dozen sunscreen and self-tan products at half price. Still not cheap, but cheaper, and what price can you put on not getting skin cancer.

Indulgence: Half leg lamb roast, $10/kg. If you think I’ve only included lamb so I can link to this year’s lamb ad you’d be right. It turns out that the rest of the world has discovered our lamb ads and it’s gone viral in all its glory. Check it out below.

See the catalogue here.


Sensible: Décor cutlery set, half price $4.25. If you are like me and shudder at the thought of using the shared office cutlery, there are now plenty of options available to have your own.

Indulgence: Woolworths Café Style Lamingtons, $16, mixed pack of eight. I love that we are experimenting with lamingtons. One of these is liberally covered in chocolate shavings and I can’t wait to try it. I still remember eating a lamington the size of my head at the late lamented Eagle Farm Farmers’ Market in Brisbane. Miss you, giant-sized lamington.

See the catalogue here.


Sensible: Ready, Steady … Cook! Marinated lamb shoulder, $19.99 per kilo. I love lamb shoulder on the barbecue. It has a high fat content, so better to put it on the grill and let the fat drip onto the coals for all those delicious smoky flavours. Added bonus, the smell will drive your neighbours mad with jealousy.

Indulgence: Potato Gratin Mushroom and Truffle, $5.49. An Aldi fan favourite. Just heat it up and you have a fancy vegie meal. Usually limited stock, so get in while you can.

See the catalogue here.


Sensible: Aerogard Insect Repellent, $9.20, save $4. The smell of Aerogard is the smell of my childhood so I’ll always go back to this brand.  

Indulgence: Streets Viennetta Vanilla, $6.60, save $2.20. I’m putting this up there with mullets as one of the most unlikely things I never thought would make a comeback from the ’80s. Buy it for the nostalgia alone, goodness knows there are better ice cream products out there.

See the catalogue here.

What do you think of Woolworths’ decision to not sell Australia Day merchandise this year? Do you ever buy Australia Day merchandise? Why not share your opinion in the comments section below?

Also read: Watchdog scrutinises ‘then and now’ pricing tactic

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisherhttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/JanFisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.


  1. Never have I bought cheap and nasty Chinese plastic, fake Australia Day rubbish from either Woolies, Coles, Big W, Kmart or elsewhere. Is this is a uniquely *LNP fettish?
    Will Woolies’ action change my shopping habits? Probably yes now I know that I’ll probably never come across Dutton while shopping and even fewer of his disciples, it adds a new buzz to shopping at Woolies.

  2. For a start, celebrating Australia Day on January 26th is a crock as it marks the settlement of New South Wales and nothing more. A more logical date is January 1st, the date of Federation. Secondly, the culturally divisive Federal Opposition Leader urges us to boycott Woolworths over its decision to not stock Australia Day paraphernalia and head to a German-Owned supermarket to buy bound-for-landfill Chinese-made flags to celebrate Britain’s arrival in New Holland!! The German-owned supermarket has since taken the same decision as Woolworths, by the way. I’d have more respect for politicians who call for a boycott over Woolworths’ poker-machine monopoly but that’s a money-earner for the govt. so don’t hold your breath.

    • You’ve just made a good point 26 January IS NOT INVASION DAY!!!! not the day captain cook planted the flag so lets get on with it and just use the date as Australia day, 1st January is new year day, so not suitable as they will feel short changed and want another day off.

  3. Australia Day
    I’m most probably going to offend some friends here.

    So if you don’t know me well enough, go ahead and unfriend me.

    I celebrate Australia Day because I’m celebrating who we are as Australians.

    -How amazing this Country is. Nobody “owns” Australia.

    We are all just tenants of it.

    No matter how long anyone has been here.
    -Nobody owns it. But it’s our home.
    And that’s why I celebrate Australia Day.
    Because it’s my home and every Australian who lives here is my neighbour.
    They are all just tenants like me.
    All our arguments are because someone thinks they have ownership.
    Nobody has ownership of land that was created before any person existed.
    We are all just caretakers of the land we choose to live.
    Respect your fellow neighbours and live, celebrate your part of the world that you call home wherever it is. Celebrate it every day.

    And sorry…. For the misinformed minorities that obviously have some confusion with the date of Australia Day and Invasion Day, please do some research.
    -Nobody living in Australia is denying the past.
    We are all well aware of the past.
    However Australia Day to Australians has nothing to do with that.
    It is about our unity to be together as one and always going forward.


  4. Everyone has an opinion on this Australia Day issue ( well almost everyone as polls seem to indicate ~20% undecided) anyway we seem to now live in a world where it is fashionable for all and sundry, including big business to be constantly dispensing social direction and advice at every opportunity, it’s almost become fashionable for them.
    However they should remember that most of us are capable of making up our own minds and acting accordingly ( as we did recently in the referendum).
    One day we may get back to a nation where you can express your opinion, have a joke and a laugh without worrying about offending some group or other.
    Let’s all get a life back and enjoy what we have in this country , it does not exist in many other parts of the world .
    Oh..and enjoy Australia Day

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