Dealing With Australia Day: An Open-Minded Discussion

Kid poses for camera in Australia Day Paraphernalia. Image: amophoto_au

Every year, on January 26, many Australians fill up their eskies, head outdoors, find a barbie, and get drunk. And every year many others will mourn. As well as this, many of us get into heated debates over what we should or shouldn’t do to Australia Day. So I figured, in my humble open-mindedness, to offer you an open discussion on whether Australia Day should stay on January 26 or change to another day. But, before that, let’s start with some facts.

Firstly, January 26 marks the day Australia was considered part of the British Empire. It also must be noted that since that day, indigenous people have been massacred, uprooted, and had their children stolen. So it is understandable why indigenous people might hate the idea of celebrating it.

On the other hand, we’ve come so far following January 26, 1788. We’ve established a constitution in 1901, creating the Australia we see today. It’s led us to be one of the leading western world countries today. And aside from the evident racism that this country has seen since 1788, we are now a multicultural conglomeration of the world, with various cultures and countries occupying our land.

But does that mean we should change it?

Former Labor MP Mark Latham says we shouldn’t, saying we will lose our freedom of speech if we do.

Save Australia Day Campaign Update

Help Save Australia Day!Mark Latham’s Outsiders has been gearing up to Save Australia Day. Three weeks out from our great national day, the Left-wing attempt to “Change The Date” is getting stronger.It’s time to fight back with a public campaign to preserve Australia Day on 26 January. Please share our campaign as widely as you can on social media and support the campaign:Credit card – (click on Save Australia Day icon)Cheque – address to 'Save Australia Day' and mailed to PO Box 455, Broadway NSW 2007.Every cent will be spent on Saving Australia Day, through radio, TV and social media advertising.

Posted by Mark Latham's Outsiders on Thursday, 4 January 2018

In relation to a television advertisement from Alice Springs councillor Jacinta Price (seen in above video), Mark said: “Political correctness is out of control and Jacinta Price makes a valid point that many Australians want to keep Australia Day as a day of unity and look to the future for solving problems of indigenous communities.”

It’s as if the lefties are on the attack and want to abolish everything about Australia Day, according to Mark. Which is not true since there have been no calls to scrap it entirely and make it nonexistent, but to “change the date”. Those three Melbourne councils have voted to cancel Australia Day celebrations while seeking to “change the date”, not to scrap it entirely. So Mark’s rhetoric – and Jacinta’s for that matter – that we will lose our freedom to even mention the words Australia Day is a little far-fetched. Good luck with your advertisement, Mark and Jacinta…

In saying that, though, changing the date is extreme and can suppress the truth of what happened on this day and all the days following the first fleet’s anchoring off Sydney Harbour in 1788. This is probably why many indigenous Australians want to keep the date.

So why should we change it then? Well, leader of the Australian Greens Richard Di Natale says that celebrating Australia Day takes away the history of what happened.

January 26 – Change the Date

January 26th marks the First Fleet’s arrival at Port Jackson in 1788, and Arthur Phillip’s raising of the Union Jack on the land of the Eora nation. It marks the beginning of an invasion – an invasion that had catastrophic and tragic consequences for all the peoples and nations who had lived here for tens of thousands of years, and for their descendants.There is still unfinished business. Sections of our Constitution authorise states to disqualify particular “races” from voting and authorise the federal parliament to pass laws discriminating against particular “races”. There is still no formal Treaty. And we still celebrate Australia Day on January 26.At the very least, all Australians should be able to participate in a national celebration.

Posted by Senator Richard Di Natale on Wednesday, 25 January 2017

“This isn’t about white guilt or black armbands, it’s about acknowledging the history of what happened and it’s modern consequences,” Richard said. “It’s about being able to have a mature, inclusive understanding of our history on this continent.”

But will changing the date really create a mature and inclusive understanding of what happened to indigenous people since 1788? Or will it postpone the partying? I would think the latter. The only way you’re going to change the way people think about Australia Day is by changing the meaning of Australia Day.

So what’s the solution? If we keep the date, then how do we use it to learn from the past? Linda Burney offers her solution: Keep Australia Day and create a second public holiday.

Speaking with the Project on truth telling in our history 22/8/17

This week, I spoke to The Project about the importance of truth telling in our history; to acknowledge past injustices; and to embrace the history of First Australians. We've come a long way in our schools and how we teach our children. But we've still got a long way to go. 26 January means many things to many people, but for many First Australians, it remains a painful day. That's why I propose an additional national public holiday that celebrates First Australians and to promote reconciliation. A day that everyone can get behind and enjoy.

Posted by Linda Burney on Wednesday, 23 August 2017

“What I’m suggesting is that the 26th of January – I don’t think it’s going to go anywhere,” she said. “It’s a very important and very significant day, but all Australians should understand that it means different things to different people. That’s the point that I’m making.”

“But, I am advocating that we have in this country an additional national holiday that celebrates, that recognises the fact that we are a nation with the most extraordinary history in the world – 65,000 years of human occupation.”

Personally, I find Linda’s argument quite strong. It’s a win-win. We get an extra public holiday where we can learn about our history on this land and indigenous people have a day where they can properly mourn.

But what’s your view?