Local MP slams calls to change Australia Day

Andrew Cummings
January 18, 2018

She said Australia Day was an "extremely painful day" for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but the Greens' movement to change the date was also hurtful.

The shadow human services minister, and first Indigenous woman elected to the federal lower house, said on Wednesday that the Greens were turning Australia Day "into a political issue" and called for a renewed focus on the Uluru statement for constitutional recognition and a voice to parliament.

"So when the Senate resumes, the Greens will be asking the Senate to support a motion to change the date".

Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker is looking to quell talk about a possible Australia Day date change, saying January 26 should continue to be the day for us to come together and celebrate what makes us Australian.

He said the "celebration" had been a painful and divisive one for 200 years, with it a constant reminder of 'the beginning of an ongoing genocide, the slaughter of so many Aboriginal people'.

A Victorian politician has called for the Australian flag to be flown at half mast on 26 January, reports the Herald Sun.

"I am proud to be an Australian, and I look forward to celebrating what makes Australia great with my community on the 26 January", he said.

Neither Labor nor the government endorse a date change, which has been adopted by a number of local councils.

The Greens have launched a petition to change the date of Australia Day "to reflect on where we're at and to celebrate what we are".

January 26 marks the date the First Fleet landed in Sydney Cove in 1788 and the beginning of British colonisation.

And, as was the case with the apology push, any Greens move to make Australia Day a hot button issue would risk diverting attention away from the shortfalls in access to housing, justice, health and education and the very bad life expectancy deficit that plagues the Indigenous community. Shouldn't they be the first ones to pick the date?' he told ABC radio.

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