Contributed by Jim Hayes
This year’s Australia Day confirmed that public support for changing the date is growing and it’s inevitable that there will eventually be a change.
On the eve of 26 January polls suggested that most Australians would be happy with the change.
The Australia Institute found that 56 percent of citizens didn’t care which day the holiday is marked, and 49 percent said the holiday should not be on a day that is offensive to indigenous Australians.
The Greens’ Richard Di Natali and three council have faced a drubbing at the Turnbull government’s hands and called divisive and un-Australian. Victoria’s Liberal Party leader has threatened council seeking to change the deal of their naturalisation ceremonies, will be sacked if the Coalition gains office in the coming election.
Their stance is out of step with the changing attitude of Australia. It begs the question, who is really being divisive? Is it those who are determined to keep the date, or those who want to change it?
Australia’s most popular youth radio station Triple J, following a poll of its listeners, announced that it would change its popular yearly countdown of the 100 hottest hits to another date, saying “it should be an event that everyone can enjoy together.”
A.B. Original, the popular indigenous rapper’s song, titled January 26 and filled with politically charged lyrics, has been the station’s sixteenth most popular song over the past year. Young Australians are leading the rest of Australia on this issue.
On the day, Melbourne saw a massive crowd of more than 60,000 people take part in the Invasion Day march, behind a banner that read abolish Australia Day and it overwhelmed the official celebrations by shear force of number. There were big marches in other cities around Australia as well.
It has come to the point, where the changing mood of Australia can no longer be ignored or insulted. The existing date does not resonate with people and there is a growing tide for inclusiveness in our society. This represents the future. It is helped along with the rising assertiveness of the First Australians.
Unfortunately, those who are at present unwilling to budge, have a good many high profile individuals in their camp, with the power and the means to communicate their views to a large audience. Their main target are older citizens, hoping that by encouraging their division from younger generations, the status quo can be held in place.
But cracks are showing, and it is likely that other high profile Australians will stand up and speak for change. Changing opinion will encourage them to stand up for change. The call can no longer Change is coming. The only question is when? Given this, the time is right to lift the debate about, where to from here? What is the most appropriate day to celebrate us, as a people, and what does this mean?