They are a regular sight across Perth as January 26 approaches - drivers flying Australia Day flags from their cars.
But the popularity of the annual trend might be about to fall, after research from the University of WA found drivers with Australia Day flags are likely to be more racist than those with un-adorned cars.
As I wrote on Monday:
You would think that Australia Day would be time for a little patriotic pride. Unfortunately, that's not how it's treated in the media. The media is obsessed in the week leading up to Australia Day with endless handwringing about whether Australians are racist or not. They just can't leave the issue alone...
So what constitutes "racism" according to the academics? It seems that the flag flyers are a little less likely than others to embrace an open-bordered multiculturalist view:
Professor Fozdar said 43 per cent of those with car flags said they believed the White Australia Policy had saved Australia from many problems experienced by other countries, while only 25 per cent without flags agreed.
And 56 per cent of people with car flags feared the Australian culture and its most important values were in danger, compared with 34 per cent of those without flags.
Professor Fozdar said 35 per cent of those with flags felt people had to be born in Australia to be truly Australian, while 23 per cent believed that true Australians had to be Christian, compared with 22 per cent and 18 per cent respectively for the non-flag group.
Interestingly the flag flyers came from a wide variety of backgrounds:
Professor Fozdar said there was no clear link between education, gender, ethnicity, citizenship, voting pattern or income and flag flying, although her survey showed a slightly higher likelihood of younger rather than older people adopting the practice.
The whole thing makes me think that in five years' time if you wave a flag on Australia Day you're likely to have a team of anthropologists from the local university come knocking on your door.
Edit: Neil Mitchell has a column in today's Herald Sun making much the same point. He complains that:
Australia Day has developed into "kick an Australian Day".
the negative navel-gazing seems to have overtaken the party to the point that the event is turning sour.