Australia

Ken Wyatt says Australia Day is painful for many and is a chance to reflect


The minister responsible for Indigenous Australians has acknowledged 26 January is a painful date for many people.

But Ken Wyatt argues Australia Day is an opportunity to reflect on the nation’s story of reconciliation.

“I know the story of Australia Day includes feelings of pain for many of us – that’s OK,” he said on Monday.

“We should take some time on Australia Day to reflect upon the sacrifices many have made, the challenges we have faced, losses felt and the adversity we have overcome to stand as here as Australians, one and free.

“We have not only survived, but we have thrived.”

A new poll suggests the majority of Australians do not want to change the date of Australia Day.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he is not surprised by the polling results.

Indigenous Labor senator Malarndirri McCarthy believes people should focus on changing attitudes towards Australia Day, rather than shifting the date.

Senator McCarthy is open to observing a minute’s silence or holding healing ceremonies.

“We have so much to do in our country that we can do and should be doing,” she told the Nine Network.

“I would like to see a lot more energy into changing the attitudes towards not only First Nations people but how we can work together going forward on January 26.

“Let’s talk about the past and the history and acknowledge it in the morning, and then go and do whatever it is you do to enjoy being in this country.”

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher has taken aim at the ABC over an article outlining a list of events on 26 January.

The article was headlined “Australia Day/Invasion Day 2021 events for Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin”.

“The name of our national day is well understood and supported, and for the ABC to suggest otherwise – that in some way Invasion Day is interchangeable with Australia Day – is clearly wrong,” Mr Fletcher said.

The ABC later removed the term Invasion Day from its headline, saying the decision was made “to avoid any reader confusion” about its editorial policies.

“The ABC’s policy is to use the term Australia Day, as it always has,” a spokesperson told AAP.

“As the editorial advice states, other terms can be used when they are appropriate in certain contexts. This does not mean they are used interchangeably.

“We have changed a headline to avoid any reader confusion about this.”

Mr Fletcher welcomed the broadcaster’s decision.

Senator McCarthy said the annual debate around Australia Day had reached frenzied levels.

“I don’t think we should see anybody uncomfortable to talk about their feelings and views about this particular day,” she said.

“Someone else is going to call it Survival Day, Invasion Day, Australia Day – can we just respect each other’s individuals views?”

The day marks the raising of the Union Jack for the first time in 1788 after the First Fleet arrived in Botany Bay the previous week.

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