Thursday, 5 December 2019
I, and also on behalf of Senator Di Natale, move:
That the Senate—
(a) acknowledges that:
(i) First Nations peoples are the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land we call Australia,
(ii) 26 January marks over 230 years of on-going dispossession and oppression for First Nations peoples and is considered a day of mourning by many First Nations peoples,
(iii) by continuing to celebrate Australia Day on 26 January we deny the truth about our shared history, and
(iv) Australians come together and march on Invasion Day because they want to tell the truth about our shared history, and acknowledge the ongoing impacts of colonisation; and
(b) urges all Australians to:
(i) respectfully engage in conversations about what 26 January means to First Nations peoples, and
(ii) be in solidarity with First Nations people on this painful day by attending Invasion Day events in their regions.
Australia Day, on 26 January, is a day when we can acknowledge actions of the past, celebrate the greatness of Australia and welcome our newest Australians alongside the world's oldest-living culture. This motion is unnecessarily divisive and, as such, the government cannot support this motion.
Labor won't be supporting this motion. We believe Australia Day is a celebration of our nation's achievements. It should also be a time of reflection for Australia and particularly for First Nations Australians. For First Nations people, 26 January is an anniversary and a reminder of dispossession, injustice and sorrow; it is a day of survival. It is a day on which we should all acknowledge the British assertion of possession that was made without the consent of First Nations people, who have lived here for over 40,000 years. It is significant that the first official event on the Australia Day program is the Wugulora morning ceremony at Barangaroo. Labor does not support this motion because Australia Day is not a denial of our history; it's an opportunity to tell the truth about it. Labor fully supports the Uluru statement, and continues to call on the government to pursue a constitutionally enshrined voice to parliament.