Being Australian instills in me a great deal of pride. Never more so than, when we celebrate Australia Day. This is why I have been perturbed by moves from a number of city councils to cancel Australia Day celebrations, calling for the date to be shifted.
As a member of parliament, Australia Day is filled with community events, welcoming people, celebrating our unique cultural identity and all the events which have shaped us. From breakfasts, ceremonies and sporting fixtures to welcome to country, awards, and fireworks and it’s about celebrating the inclusive nature of our country, the people and events that make us uniquely Australians.
With individual councils now calling to change Australia Day to condemn the connection between Australia Day and the landing of the First Fleet 1788, it is hard not to feel that these councils have overlooked the values of Australians, celebrating our national day.
While there were undeniably great atrocities committed against indigenous peoples following British colonisation, it is equally undeniable that these events, helped shape who we are as a country. Additionally, such atrocities were not solely inflicted on a single day but over centuries. To deny the errors of the past from which we have learned, denies a vast part of our identity however unpalatable that may be.
Regardless that Captain Arthur Phillip’s landing is now little more than a footnote to Australia Day; it is also worth considering the dividends of British settlement. During the 1600s and 1700s, European nations colonised the world.
Inevitably one of them would found a colony in Australia. If not the British, it could have been any European nation. Colonisation delivered our system of government, the basis of our laws, electoral equality for all, private and religious freedoms, even the language, which is now the common tool of communication globally.
To deny this heritage and link is to devalue our institutions, to trash the values that have made Australia one of the most successful nations in the world. Those councils that deny Australia Day have rightfully had their charter to conduct citizenship ceremonies removed. They fail to recognise the origins of our Australian values and culture, and the welcoming, inclusive, successful, multicultural nation that is Australia.
Member for Grey