Thursday, 8 February 2018
I, and also on behalf of Senator Di Natale, move:
That the Senate—
(a) acknowledges that:
(i) on 26 January 2018, tens of thousands of Australians around the country marched in solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples calling on Governments to change the date of Australia Day, and
(ii) 26 January is a day of mourning for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, as it represents the beginning of colonisation, the theft of their land, the decimation of their culture and the start of ongoing genocide; and
(b) calls on federal, state and territory governments to change the date of Australia Day so that everyone can participate in celebrating this national day.
The coalition government does not support this motion, as we believe Australia Day should remain our national day on 26 January, as do the majority of Australians. Australia Day is a day where, as a nation, we celebrate our shared values as well as the rich diversity of Australians, from our First Australians to our newest citizens. We are the most successful multicultural society in the world and we should celebrate and be proud of it.
Labor will be opposing this motion. There is no doubt that Australia Day is an important national day. It's a source of great celebration for Australians, but we cannot shy away from the fact that for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, 26 January can speak of dispossession and sorrow. On Australia Day, we should acknowledge that we owe our First Australians more than just a few brief words of respect. We are no different to any other country, in that our history has its fault lines. We have our share of triumphs and successes and our share of scars and stains. It is correct to acknowledge that we have had long decades of dispossession and degradation inflicted upon our First Australians by those who came after. We need to recognise the historical truth that our history is one we can be proud of, but also recognise its errors and mistakes. Labor does not support changing the date of Australia Day.