(FwrdAxis.com) Thursday marks Australia’s national day, Australia Day. While there’s no argument that there should be an Australia day, the specific date is marred in controversy.
Celebrated annually on January 26th, Australia Day marks the day that British Governor Arthur Phillip landed at Sydney Cove and raised the Union Flag. This date has long been met with criticism from Australia’s indigenous population.
The first protests against the date were held in 1938, tagging the date as Invasion Day. For many indigenous Australians, this has also been termed survival day.
It is odd that Australia continues to mark its national holiday on a day that causes so much pain for its indigenous population. Australia frequently pushes indigenous cultural experiences as a reason to visit Australia. Australia is rightly proud of its indigenous history, the oldest still existing culture in the world, and yet in this way continues to hurt it.
January 26 is not a day for celebration – that’s why news.com.au is campaigning to change the date of Australia Day, so we can celebrate the best country in the world, without leaving anyone behind.
Critics of changing the date suggest that this notion is a recent phenomenon. That is simply not true, in 1888 Henry Parkes, the then New South Wales premier was asked about including indigenous Australians. He rejected the notion saying “And remind them that we have robbed them?”
Another criticism has been tradition. Yet Australia has changed many things that are “traditional”. In 1973 the National Anthem became Advance Australia Fair from God Save the Queen. In 1984 the lyrics were changed from “Australian sons let us rejoice” to “Australians all let us rejoice”. Notably in 2021 it was changed again, in response to offense caused to indigenous Australians. The lyric “for we are young and free” was changed to “for we are one and free”.
Australians love public holidays, so just scrapping Australia Day would face opposition. In addition, a national day should be celebrated, but probably not the day that dispossessed your indigenous population. But January 26th isn’t an ideal date for a public holiday anyway, the new year’s period has come with three public holidays so moving the date spreads out holidays.
One big challenge is that the most ideal date for Australia Day is January 1st. This would celebrate Australia becoming its own nation through Federation in 1901. But as that’s already New Years Day it doesn’t have much support.
A common suggested date is May 8, due to the similarity to the word “mate”. This date would be making a mockery of the country and Indigenous Australians. One day later, May 9, was the opening of Australia’s first parliament.
In response to indigenous concerns, May 27th may be an appropriate date. This would be the anniversary of Indigenous Australians gaining recognition and being included in the census. Celebrating the date of the 1967 referendum.
Wattle Day, a celebration of Australia’s floral emblem and the origin of the national colors of green and gold, has also been proposed. Celebrated on September 1st it’s a day that already exists but isn’t a public holiday.
Another date that cuts back to the creation of Australia is October 24th. That would celebrate Henry Parkes’ famous Tenterfield Oration which called for Australia to federate into one country. Parkes wouldn’t live to see his call finally realized in 1901.
It is interesting that as Prime Minister Anthony Albanese fights for an “indigenous voice” to parliament he has expressed opposition to this.
The best date would be a true Australian independence. With King Charles ascending to the throne Australia has a unique chance to throw off being ruled by a British monarch and create a new, modern, Australia. The formation of an Australian Republic would be the perfect date for Australia Day.