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Nobody suffers if we shift Australia Day celebrations

About DJC

The older I get, the less I know and the more inquisitive I get.

Unfortunately, despite a lifelong search, most of the answers elude me. That said, I love to ask the questions and fuel the debates that will ultimately lead us all to a better understanding of the big issues in life, the universe and everything.

They say that we spend 98% of our lives in our head. I for one would like to use that time as effectively as possible.

Why our Prime Minister's Australia Day stance is dishonest, divisive and wrong.

Like many Australians, I have found most of our recent prime ministers to be a huge disappointment. I had high hopes that Malcolm Turnbull might be different. But alas, despite showing early promise, he is no different to the rest and now his moral code is in full retreat.

Changing Australia Day from January 26 harms no one, but includes many.

Changing Australia Day from January 26 harms no one, but includes many. Let's do it! Picture: Shutterstock

I am particularly disturbed by his stance on Australia Day. While I am disappointed that he does not favour a change, I can accept that. I also note that he shares that view with other populist leaders, including Bill Shorten. I'm not disturbed by his view, but rather the dishonest way in which he supports it.

He is suggesting that the date of Australia Day -- long-upsetting to many of our indigenous brothers and sisters, thanks to it being the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet -- should not be changed because it would be divisive.

Three fundamentally dishonest propositions lie at the heart of this argument.

First, Turnbull is suggesting that the issue is not already divisive, when clearly it is. Second, he is suggesting that to be a patriotic Australian who believes in inclusiveness, you must celebrate Australia Day on January 26, which is simply not so. Third, he suggests that to change the celebration date is to rewrite history, which clearly, it is not.

On the first point, it strikes me that changing Australia Day, with the public support of both major party leaders, is more likely to bring Australians, all Australians, together. Changing Australia Day hurts absolutely no one. Nobody will be in the least bit disadvantaged. It is a gesture to a small but important group of people, indigenous Australians, which may help to bring us all a little closer together, in the spirit of reconciliation.

I am not suggesting for a moment that we should not celebrate Australia Day. Indeed, with the inclusion of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, we may even see it become an even bigger celebration.

If nobody is disadvantaged by the change and just one person is better off, I say change!

As one of Turnbull’s colleagues with Scottish heritage said: ''We would not celebrate the UK in Scotland on the day the English invaded us.''

On the second point, we've only celebrated Australia Day on January 26 since the 1980s -- when Prime Minister Bob Hawke made it mandatory that the holiday be on January 26, no matter what day of the week it fell. In other words, in six of the seven years prior to 1984, we celebrated Australia Day on days other than January 26.

Further to this, why celebrate on the day that Captain Cook landed, rather that the anniversary of Federation, when Australia became a nation? Or ANZAC Day, a day that truly unites all Australians? I certainly have no attachment to Captain Cook. So long as Australia Day is celebrated, what does it matter if it is on another day?

Finally, no one is suggesting that we deny that Captain Cook landed on January 26. In fact, our indigenous communities recognise this full well, as we all should. But why not celebrate the first day of nationhood, the day Australia became a federation and nation. It's just as important.

The argument that anyone is trying to rewrite history is entirely fabricated.

In summary, I am not devaluing Australia Day and support it being celebrated well by as many people as possible. What I am arguing, is that if the date was changed, there may be even more people celebrating Australia Day.

More importantly, no one is disadvantaged by a change, yet many Australians will feel better if there is one.

On that basis alone, we should change the date of Australia Day and then call on all Indigenous Australians to own it, as much as white Australians do.

FOOTNOTE: And it seems most Australians agree with me. A Research Now survey of 1417 people published today suggests nearly all Australians (84 percent) think it is important the country has a national day of celebration. Further, 56 percent say they don't mind when the day occurs, challenging the notion that Australians see January 26 as untouchable.

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