Government opposed to moving the date of Australia Day

by Ray Clancy on January 19, 2018

in Australia

A desire to move the date of Australia Day, the national holiday commemorating the first British ships to arrive in 1788, has been lambasted as a minority view by a Government official.

There has been a growing call for the date of the national day to be moved from 26 January but now Assistant Home Office Minister Alex Hawke has said firmly that it should not be moved and there is no general appetite for change.

(Ann Muse/Bigstock.com)

He described calls from the Greens political party for a change as an ‘unrepresentative attempt to impose a far-left agenda on everyday Australians’. He went on to say that there is overwhelming support for no change, including among indigenous communities.

‘This small minority of Greens and their supporters continue to attack Australia Day 26 January as part of a greater political and ideological push. This is despite overwhelming support for Australia Day remaining 26 January including significant diversity of views in our indigenous community,’ he said in a statement.

‘The Greens whole publicity stunt is shameless attention seeking at the expense of our national day and another example of why Australians should reject the divisive approach of the Greens. Australia Day 26 January is an important part of our history and it is vital for us to celebrate our incredible achievements as a nation, freedom, a fair go, mateship and diversity,’ Hawke added.

He pointed out that Australia Day is the most popular day of the year for people from overseas taking citizenship with hundreds of ceremonies all over the country. ‘The Government expects to see record numbers of new Australians receiving their citizenship. Australia Day 26 January rightly remains the most popular day to have citizenship conferred. The Government is resolute in our commitment to safeguard the integrity of citizenship ceremonies to be held on our national day,’ Hawke said.

He also went on to say on radio that Australia Day should be seen as more than just the anniversary of when white people arrived. ‘It wasn’t an invasion, a planned invasion, it was colonisation by Britain. It had implications for Aboriginal Australians, there’s no doubt about it,’ he explained, adding that it should not be moved ‘just because we have some elements of our history that we’re not proud of’.

In the past year Hawke has written warning letters to several local councils who voted to move their celebrations and citizenship ceremony from the contentious date. However, there is growing support for a change with supporters arguing that 26 January represents the beginning of the colonisation of Australia and the suppression of indigenous people.

Greens party leader Richard di Natale is asking local party members to push for change at a council level. ‘All Australians want a day on which we can come together and to celebrate our wonderfully diverse, open and free society but January 26 is not that day. It’s time that we stop papering over an issue that for 200 years has been so divisive and painful for so many of our citizens,’ he said.

Megan Davis, a law professor at the University of New South Wales and a member of the Referendum Council which has published an Uluru statement for constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians, has said there should be a more open debate about this part of Australia’s history.

Last year, councils in Fremantle, Yarra and Darebin, which all feature Greens representatives, voted to shift their citizenship ceremonies and Australia Day celebrations to another day, which led to a swift and hostile response from the Government, including Prime Minister Bill Turnbull.

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