Despite halting 'Australia Day' merchandise, Woolworths doesn't really care about us. They’ve shown that.

Woolworths deciding to take the patriotic merchandise off shelves is most likely a purely strategic business decision. They don’t really care about little us. They’ve shown that.

In the lead up to January 26, the Australian media landscape is set alight with debate over the 34 year old public holiday called ‘Australia Day.'

As a First Nations person, you expect the usual social media storm and talk show tiffs but this time the ‘fresh food people’ entered the chat. 

Or have they? 

Earlier this week, supermarket behemoth Woolworths and one of its subsidiaries, Big W, made the announcement they would not be stocking ‘Australia Day’ merchandise this year. 

The retail giant said it was due to a decline in demand from customers. 

"There has been a gradual decline in demand for Australia Day merchandise from our stores over recent years,” a Woolworths spokesperson said.

“At the same time there's been broader discussion about 26 January and what it means to different parts of the community."

The announcement, predictably, sent social media, public figures and politicians into a spiral. 

Hot takes were flying left and right. 

Pauline Hanson said Australia Day was being ‘attacked.'

Queensland coalition backbencher, Henry Pike, said the decision was “yet another pathetic attempt by big corporations to impose their woke ideology on us and to cancel our national day by stealth.”

Opposition leader Peter Dutton called for a boycott of the supermarket chain, saying it was "peddling woke agendas."

He accused Woolworths of 'trying to cancel Australia Day’, called it an ’outrage’ and advised people to take their business elsewhere. 

“Go to IGA or Coles or Aldi,” he said in a 2GB interview on Thursday.

Unfortunately, for Mr Dutton, Aldi has since announced they too will not be stocking the merchandise. 

Some applauded Woolworths' decision, while others pointed out that the nationwide supermarket probably wasn’t doing something out of the goodness of their heart.

I have to agree, we do have to approach these decisions with a healthy dose of cynicism.

Late last year, the Greens secured a senate inquiry into the duopoly Coles and Woolies has on the supermarket industry.

The inquiry will look at price-gouging, including the misleading labelling of discounts and enjoying significant profit margins, while the rest of us pick up chicken breasts that are a mere 30 cents cheaper.

With Indigenous people being one of the most economically disadvantaged demographics in the country, I’m hesitant to be so quick to applaud huge corporations for doing the bare minimum.

Is it a step in the right direction? I guess? 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been urging the Australian people to recognise our humanity since colonisation began. 

We have called for the date to be changed, abolished and reconsidered. 

There are countless writers, academics, activists, sporting legends etc etc, who have given their space and time explaining why we ask for this small symbolic gesture of solidarity.

And still, each year we are called upon to share our perspective. 

For the past couple of years I have wondered; what new take could I possibly come up with to convince anyone that the Australia you know and love has more cause for reflecting and righting past (and current) wrongs first, than it does for celebrating? 

The truth is I can’t. All we can do, as a collective, is persist. 

Woolworths deciding to take the patriotic merchandise off shelves is most likely a purely strategic business decision. They don’t really care about little us. They’ve shown that.

But is the decline in demand a sign that people are slowly moving in a different direction? 

We’ll see.