The Prime Minister has reignited the debate concerning the date of Australia Day, by proposing a new national day to celebrate Indigenous Australians.
It follows a decision by the Federal Government to strip Byron Shire Council of its right to hold citizenship ceremonies, after it planned to move the official event forward by a day, to January 25.
Scott Morrison accused the council of treating citizenship ceremonies like a “political football”, in an interview with Channel Seven on Tuesday morning.
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“Citizenship is about the citizens, it’s not about the egos of councillors,” Mr Morrison said.
Indulgent self-loathing doesn’t make Australia stronger. Being honest about the past does. Our modern Aus nation began on January 26, 1788. That’s the day to reflect on what we’ve accomplished, become, still to achieve. We can do this sensitively, respectfully, proudly, together. https://t.co/uM59Lwrr1p
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) September 23, 2018
He went on to explain his idea of creating a new day of recognition, separate to Australia Day on January 26.
“We don’t have to pull Australia Day down to actually recognise the achievements of indigenous Australians, the oldest living culture in the world,” he said.
There has long been division over the recognition of January 26 as the date Australia was ‘discovered’ (in 1788), with many believing it is disrespectful to our ‘first people’, who had lived here for thousands of years.
The PM is cracking down on councils that move Australia Day and wants to create a new Indigenous day.@ScottMorrisonMP: We don’t have to pull Australia Day down to recognise the achievements of Indigenous Australians.#auspol #sun7 pic.twitter.com/amhQ5H3JsH
— Sunrise (@sunriseon7) September 24, 2018
Acting Labor leader Tanya Plibersek was quick to respond. She agreed that Australia Day should remain on January 26, but criticised Mr Morrison on his lack of consultation with the Indigenous community.
Labor supports Australia Day staying on 26th Jan, although we understand it’s a difficult day for many Australians. We are disappointed the Prime Minister has chosen to float such a significant idea like this through the media with zero consultation. It’s disrespectful.
— Tanya Plibersek (@tanya_plibersek) September 24, 2018