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Social Issues

Australia Day or Invasion Day?


A nation’s national day of celebration is meant to unite a country, but in recent years that has not been the case in Australia. So is it time to change the date we celebrate our national day?

The date of 26 January has always been controversial as our national day of celebration, even though it was only set down as a national holiday in 1994.

In 1888, Sir Henry Parkes, then Premier of NSW, was asked what he had planned for Aboriginal people for the centenary of the foundation of Australia. He replied: “And remind them that we have robbed them?”

That was also the year that Aboriginal people staged the first boycott of the celebration, even though it went unnoticed by the wider community and unreported in the media.

1938, the 150th anniversary of Captain Phillip’s landing, saw the first official protest by Aboriginal people, led by Yorta Yorta man William Cooper and other members of the Aboriginal Progressive Association.

This was the National Day of Mourning and Protest, and similar protests have been held every year since. In 2020, over 100,000 people of all cultural backgrounds took place in these protests right across Australia.

On Australia Day in 1972, the Aboriginal Tent Embassy was established on the lawns opposite Parliament House in Canberra. It still exists today.

Australia Day 1988, the bicentenary, saw about 40,000 Aboriginal people and their supporters march from Redfern Park to a public rally at Hyde Park and then on to Sydney Harbour.

The 2013 celebration saw the Aboriginal flag flown for the first time alongside the Australian flag on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

So as can be seen, these protests are not something new. They have been going on for at least 185 years, and probably since the day the English first occupied the land in 1788.

So considering that, as a nation, we have only been observing 26 January as our national day for 29 years, is it time we changed the date?

Few would say that it hasn’t always been a matter of contention for the Aboriginal people, and in recent years for the wider community as well. There is no other public holiday in the Australian calendar that creates so much controversy.

So if not 26 January, when would be an appropriate day?

One alternative is 1 January, the day the Commonwealth of Australia came into existence in 1901. The problem with this is that Australians would possibly lose a public holiday, and that seems of more concern to most of the wider community than the actual significance of the day.

Another date put forward is 12 March, the day in 2013 when Canberra was officially named and Australia’s capital city was born. It is already celebrated as Canberra Day in the ACT.

Or there is 9 May, the day in 1901 when Australia became a self-governing federation; again in 1927, when the Parliament shifted to from Melbourne to Canberra; and finally, in the bicentennial year of 1988, when the current Parliament House was opened.

My personal favourite is 27 May, the day in 1967 when 91% of Australians voted yes in a referendum to include Indigenous Australians in the census count and to give Federal Parliament the power to specifically legislate for them.

We could wait until the Voice is officially legislated in Parliament, and use that date as our new national day.

There are many choices for when we could have our national day of celebration, but history tells us that 26 January may not be the best choice.

Whatever date is chosen, I think it is a debate that is needed. 26 January has become a day of division, and perhaps that is not what is needed to celebrate what should be a day of unity.

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The costs of campaigning for changes to government legislation are considerable. If you appreciate this work, please consider donating so we can continue operating in this area.

The money raised will be spent on campaigning to state and federal MP s, as well as newspapers and other media across Australia, to improve social justice for all.

Please bear in mind that while I am a business consultant, I only work part time due to also being a disabled pensioner. I intend to take these matters to court, but that takes time and money.

Any money raised through donations will be kept in a separate bank account to cover these costs.

I would also welcome any help from legal professionals, or professionally qualified volunteers who are willing to assist.

The costs of campaigning for changes to government legislation are considerable. If you appreciate this work, please consider donating so we can continue operating in this area.

The money raised will be spent on campaigning to state and federal MP s, as well as newspapers and other media across Australia, to improve social justice for all.

Please bear in mind that while I am a business consultant, I only work part time due to also being a disabled pensioner. I intend to take these matters to court, but that takes time and money.

Any money raised through donations will be kept in a separate bank account to cover these costs.

I would also welcome any help from legal professionals, or professionally qualified volunteers who are willing to assist.

The costs of campaigning for changes to government legislation are considerable. If you appreciate this work, please consider donating so we can continue operating in this area.

The money raised will be spent on campaigning to state and federal MP s, as well as newspapers and other media across Australia, to improve social justice for all.

Please bear in mind that while I am a business consultant, I only work part time due to also being a disabled pensioner. I intend to take these matters to court, but that takes time and money.

Any money raised through donations will be kept in a separate bank account to cover these costs.

I would also welcome any help from legal professionals, or professionally qualified volunteers who are willing to assist.

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About Craig Hill

Social Justice Campaigner. Business and Education Consultant. Former Business/ESL Teacher. Lived in China and USA. Dealing with disability. My articles have been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and many other international publications.

Discussion

3 thoughts on “Australia Day or Invasion Day?

  1. Leave it alone. Stop this business of changing what is for the sake of some. How much has to be changed before it’s enough. The issue only seeks to divide and fuel hatred.

    Posted by Del | January 26, 2023, 08:11
    • Everything is “for the sake of some”, so what? The point here is being right, establish the truth, respect everyone, not when convenient. Do you think respect one way/your way? Need a better way to picture it? Imagine someone dancing, drinking, having a party on the tomb of someone else, maybe someone you know, maybe a family member, or a soldier memorial….
      Mate wake up, we ARE divided, what do you think this is, don’t you see that we do not agree? Fuel hatred? You are using this word, so maybe that’s you, I simply call it Justice!

      Posted by P&L | January 27, 2023, 11:14
  2. 12 March 1913 Canberra was officially named……

    Posted by P&L | January 27, 2023, 10:57

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