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January 26th (Australia Day) highlights

Friday, 26 January 2018  | Ethos editor

January 26th (Australia Day) Links

Below is a selection of links to online news and opinion pieces on the topic of January 26th (Australia Day). To keep up-to-date with our posts, ‘like’ us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter.

The articles below are selected by the editor, Armen Gakavian, at his discretion. Neither the editor nor Ethos necessarily endorse the views expressed in these articles.

Why acknowledge? Common Grace has put together a set of excellent resources for January 26th, including the history of January 26th, reflections about ‘changing the date’, church resources and more.

Kristyn Harman writes: That colonial wars were fought in Tasmania is irrefutable. More controversially, surviving evidence suggests the British enacted genocidal policies against the Tasmanian Aboriginal people.

Fatima Measham writes: States other than NSW, having been founded on various dates, regarded 26 January as a Sydney thing until 1935. In 1938 it was declared an Aboriginal Day of Mourning. To press the point, the current momentum against Australia Day is not some newfound 'political correctness', not least because it predates the term.

Scott Higgins writes: January 26 is therefore doubly inappropriate as the day to commemorate Australia Day. On the one hand it is a date that has no correlation with the birth of the modern Australian nation-state, and on the other it commemorates a date in our history that marked the beginning of the decimation of our indigenous nations. So why don’t we just get on with moving the day?

Frank Bongiorno writes: As it becomes ever more entangled in battles over the meaning of our history, Australia Day will find it difficult to foster common belonging and social cohesion.

Michael Frost writes: Why is it so difficult to see how offensive it is to force indigenous Australians to just get over the past, to smile along with us on January 26, to listen to an Australian music countdown, to enjoy the annual lamb ad, and to celebrate ‘all of the things we’ve achieved’?

Maggie Walter writes: If we can’t work out that we need to complete the peacemaking between Indigenous Australians and those whose ancestors arrived at or post-1788, we are not ready to be a republic. Changing the date of Australia Day is the first tiny step for Australia, both as a nation and a society, to begin the reckoning with its origins.

Sherry Sufi writes: Whether Australia's colonisation by the British Empire should be classified as an invasion or settlement is not a question of mere semantics. It's a question that holds serious legal and political consequences for our country. Native title can only exist if Australia was settled, not invaded, because international law recognises all territories acquired through invasion and annexation by force, prior to World War II, as lawful conquests. This invalidates any claims to separate land rights under the same jurisdiction.

Kate Galloway In an article published in the lead up to Australia Day, WA Liberal Party policy committee chairman Sherry Sufi said ‘native title can only exist if Australia was settled, not invaded’. Is that right?

Bob Ryan writes: There is a compromise that could satisfy both sides of the dispute and not add to the number of national holidays. Wait till we become a republic and replace Australia Day with Republic (or Remembrance) Day. And replace the queen’s holiday in June with Mabo Day. Neither would impinge on the existing holiday regime. Which is, after all what most Aussies really care about.

Russell Grenning writes: The problem faced by the Change the Date campaigners is that whatever alternative date is chosen it would be welcomed by some and derided by others. It would probably face the same fate as the ill-fated Republic referendum in 1999 when a major reason for that failure was a failure by pro-republic campaigners to agree on how a future President would be elected or selected.

Indigenous leader Warren Mundine supports changing the date from January 26. But he has pleaded for an end to the 'disgraceful' debate over Australia Day, echoing the prime minister's worry that it is dividing the country.

Pastor Ray Minniecon, one of the organisers of Sydney's Invasion Day rally, said Mr Abbott was 'an idiot' after the former Prime Minister said the arrival of the First Fleet was a 'good thing' for Indigenous Australians. Nakari Thorpe reports.

Joshua Robertson writes: Northern Territory chief minister Michael Gunner has called for changes to Australia Day celebrations to highlight ‘the Aboriginal contribution to our national identity’ and acknowledge the lasting trauma of Indigenous dispossession. He said the Territory Labor government would also move to elevate the use of Indigenous place names and official recognition of frontier atrocities committed against Aboriginal Australians.

Mark Kenny writes: A hole in the argument to moving Australia Day from January 26 has been the absence of a logical alternative – or any consensus for same. So why not consider May 9th?

Jack Latimore writes: 26th January is steeped in the blood of violent dispossession, of attempted genocide, of enduring trauma. And there is a shared understanding that there has been no conclusion of the white colonial project when it comes to the commonwealth’s approach to Indigenous people. Our sentiment in regards to 26 January a recent phenomenon.

Tom Calma writes: Can our national day ever be truly inclusive if it is celebrated on a day that represents the physical and cultural dispossession of the First Australians? The current choice of date for Australia Day is symbolic of the country we used to be – not the one we hope to become.

Glenn Loughley writes: Yes, 26th January is invasion day. It is the day when life changed dramatically for people who were used to great challenges and the hardships of living in this brutal country. It is the day that brought a seemingly endless genocide as many of our people died in those early days from war and disease, and many continue to die from neglect and poverty. This is undeniable. But for Aboriginal people this day is much more than that.

Tim Dean writes: Debates around changing the date of Australia Day tend to run afoul of our sense of social identity, but there are ways to cut through and have a good conversation.

Geoffrey Blainey writes: For many Aborigines the year 1788, in retrospect, was a tragedy, and for a long period of time they continued to suffer. But sections of the media, universities and schools exaggerate the bad news. This is a powerful ingredient in the present criticism of Australia Day. These critics, putting on their black armbands, now imagine that before 1788 the Aborigines lived in a kind of paradise, from which later they were brutally and deliberately expelled.

The Project asks if January 26th really is the best day for all of us to celebrate Australia Day. With Hamish Macdonald and Tom Whitty.

Simon Longstaff writes: What are we to make of 26 January? If it a time of reflection and self-examination, then 26 January is a potent anniversary. If, on the other hand, it is meant to be a celebration of and for all Australians, then why choose a date which represents loss and suffering for so many of our fellow citizens?

Gemma McKinnon asks: Is it morally wrong to celebrate Australia Day on 26 January? Without doubt. By choosing that particular date, you're valorising an invasion - the beginning of mass slaughter, dispossession, genocide and land theft. Yet so many seem incapable of recognising that their privilege is built upon wealth gained from stolen land and genocide.

Kanishka Raffel writes: The suggestion that Australia Day celebrations should begin with a time of mourning in acknowledgement of the suffering caused to indigenous people through European settlement reflects the Christian pattern of frank admission or confession of sin.

John Yates writes: There is something deeper in the debate over the date for Australia day than politics and human emotion. We need ‘the mind of Christ’ about Australia’s Day.





Susie Gentle
January 26, 2018, 7:34PM
Apart from Geoffrey Blainey's position of denial of reality, the above are all really well thought out ideas.

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