It’s by no means a new issue, but the debate surrounding the date and name of Australia Day has been particularly vocal this year, with many new voices joining the traditional commentary.
Here’s NIT’s quick snapshot of who said what …
The former Australian tennis champion, who does work with Indigenous charity Children’s Ground, says he’s no longer celebrating Australia Day because it marks “violence and dispossession” for the nation’s Indigenous people.
The former Prime Minister told Sydney radio station 2GB the arrival of the First Fleet was a good thing for Aboriginal people. “What happened on the 26th of January 1788 was on balance, for everyone — Aboriginal people included — a good thing because it brought Western civilisation to this country; it brought Australia into the modern world.”
The sole surviving founder of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy welcomes the debate over Invasion Day versus Australia Day, but says “truth must prevail. The bottom line is there is NOTHING, not even for the non-Aboriginal majority, to celebrate because Australia is NOT an independent nation”.
ROBERT DI NATALE
As the Australian Greens continue to collect names for a petition to change the date of Australia Day, their leader Di Natale says getting the date changed will be a “top priority” for his party this year.
Indigenous businessman, TV host and author Mundine supports changing the date, but says the abuse needs to stop. “It irritates me that every time it comes up, every year, you get the same old people coming out and arguing the same old cases, trying to divide the country when we should be actually trying to work together,” he told Sydney radio station 2GB.
In a video posted on his Twitter account, the Prime Minister says he’s disappointed with those trying to change the date of Australia Day. “I’m disappointed by those who want to change the date of Australia Day … seeking to take a day that unites Australia and Australians and turn it into one that will divide us,” he says. “We recognise that the history of European settlement here in Australia has been complex and tragic for indigenous Australians … Australia Day is a day to come together.”
The Indigenous government frontbencher says the date should be changed when Australia becomes a republic. Mr Wyatt says when Australia becomes a republic, there will be a new Australia Day anniversary to replace January 26.
The Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister says no Indigenous Australian has told him the date of Australia Day should be changed, aside from one government adviser.
The celebrated educator and Turnbull Government Indigenous adviser says celebrating Australia Day on the day of the First Fleet’s arrival will never be accepted by the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Read more in NIT: Australia Day? We’ve got bigger fish to fry