Posted: 12:15 pm on 1st April 2014

balloonsRemember when WasteWatch uncovered the cost to the Australian taxpayer of Harmony Day 2013‘s colourful stickers and balloons?

Well, the magical day has come and gone. In case you missed it, it was on over a week ago.

Now that Harmony Day is behind us, it’s worth taking a look at the costs and benefits of the initiative.

The Howard Government introduced Harmony Day in 1999 as a way of marking the UN-approved International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which in turn was introduced in 1966 as a way of commemorating the horrific Sharpeville massacre of apartheid South Africa.

Australians are instructed to wear something orange, to demonstrate their support for cultural diversity and an inclusive Australia with lots of flowers and butterflies and beautiful sunset. Or perhaps just one where we don’t shoot people for protesting against discriminatory internal passports.

Harmony Day has cost the Australian taxpayer about $470,000.

WasteWatch’s conclusion? It seems unlikely that taxpayer-funded orange balloons and stickers will help address racial harmony in Australia.

As CIS Research Fellow Jeremy Sammut (on his WasteWatch debut!) wrote in The Spectator, “the ‘fair go’ culture that makes Australia a multiracial success” is a much better tool in the fight against racism than government programs.

William Shrubb, Research Assistant

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