Prime Minister Scott Morrison has proposed a new national day to honour the history of indigenous Australians.
Morrison told The Daily Telegraph there should be a day to pay respect and remember the country’s “deep scars … in relation to the treatment and experience of indigenous Australians”.
In doing so, he wants to “work together to bring and keep Australians together” on a new national day for indigenous citizens.
But he says this should be a separate day to Australia Day, which must remain on January 26 to acknowledge that on this day “Australia changed forever”.
“In recent years, some have said we should walk away from Australia Day on January 26. For some this comes from a place of deep respect for indigenous Australians.
“I understand this, but respectfully disagree.”
It comes amid the PM’s attack on local councils over the treatment of Australia Day.
Morrison stripped Byron Shire of its authority to conduct citizenship ceremonies, after the council last week passed a motion to move Australia Day forward a day.
He says councils will no longer be allowed to Australia Day as a “political football”.
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
Meanwhile Byron Mayor Simon Richardson said the celebrations on January 26 caused pain in a proportion of his community.
“Is it true mateship to willingly, willfully and continually to celebrate what rightfully is great to be an Australian on a day that some Australians are pained by?” he told 3AW on Monday.
He also questioned the Prime Minister’s remark about “modern Australia” saying: “I thought we were actually celebrating Australia Day, not ‘modern’ Australia Day.”
He continued: “All we’re trying to do is trying to reflect history and acknowledge that Australia began, not with the second wave of settlers, but the first.”
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