Should we change the date of Australia Day?

Australia Day, 26 January, is the day to reflect on what it means to be Australian, to celebrate contemporary Australia and to acknowledge our history.

It is a celebration of our cultural heritage and everything that it means to be an Australian in this cultural melting pot where 30% of our population was born overseas.

There are calls to change the date of Australia Day to make it a celebration that is inclusive of the people who lived here before those ships arrived.

One of the more humours proposal is May 8 – Maaate!!!! which would provide a lighter side to the drama that is increasingly surrounding the arrival of the First Fleet.

For Indigenous Australians, the historic date of January 26 was the day when their land was no longer only theirs and in the years since there have been several calls to stop marking the day with celebration but with “mourning and protest”.

Firstly, Captain James Cook did not discover Australia. Indigenous Australians were and the first European honour goes to the Dutch.

Secondly, January 26, 1788, did not see the foundation of modern Australia. The First Fleet arrived in Botany Bay between January 18 and January 20 and moved to Port Jackson on January 26 because there was not enough fresh water in Botany Bay.

And let’s face it the 1000 people who landed here were mainly convicts who didn’t want to be here and certainly were forced to create a new nation!

Here are some of the alternative dates being discussed and some reasons.

January 1
Because it’s the day the Commonwealth of Australia came into being in 1901. But it’s already a public holiday so that creates problems.

February 13
The date where our national parliament duly acknowledged the past and laid claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

March 12
On this date in 1913, Canberra was officially named and Australia’s capital city was born.

May 9
When the Parliament shifted to Canberra (from Melbourne); and finally, in the bicentennial year of 1988, when the current Parliament House was opened. It’s also Mother’s Day.

May 27
On May 27, 1967, Australia held a referendum to include Indigenous Australians in the census count and to give Federal Parliament the power to specifically legislate for them.

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