Politics

Karl Stefanovic Has Thrown His Support Behind The Campaign To Change The Date Of Australia Day

"So let's do it together."

Fresh from demolishing the government’s ridiculous postal survey on marriage equality, Today presenter Karl Stefanovic has this morning gotten behind the campaign to change the date of Australia Day.

Stefanovic delivered a monologue straight to camera on Today on the issue of Australia Day, explaining that while he previously supported celebrating on January 26 he had recently changed his mind.

“Having spoken to several people from those [Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander] communities, I empathise,” he said. “As hard as some want to ignore it, January 26 marks a day this land changed forever for one of the oldest and most beautiful cultures in the world.”

“To this day mortality rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are alarming. It wasn’t until March 1962 the Menzies government finally gave the right to vote for all Aboriginal people. We look back at the horror of the Stolen Generation. Earlier in the 20th century the White Australia policy. Then we look at what happened in Tasmania. They are all facts and all incredibly painful.

“If we are to truly follow through with the apology and move forward together hand in hand, arm and arm then I believe it must change. So let’s do it together. Certainly, let’s debate it together.”

Stefanovic then offered up a much less political argument for changing the date. “On a much lighter note, the 26th is a rubbish day for a party anyway,” he argued. “Who ever had a party on the 26th of anything?” Which seems like a pretty brutal sledge on everyone who was born on the 26th of any month. He ended the monologue by calling for Australia Day to move to January 1.

It’s a pretty big turnaround for Stefanovic who criticised Triple J less than two weeks ago for surveying listeners on changing the date of the Hottest 100.

While Stefanovic’s support for the campaign will likely expose new audiences to the arguments in favour of changing the date of Australia Day, it’s important to remember Indigenous Australians have been calling for the move for a long time.

Last night Melbourne’s Yarra council voted to stop referring to January 26 as Australia Day and will no longer hold citizenship ceremonies on that day. The move follows a decision by Fremantle council last year to scrap Australia Day celebrations.

The assistant minister for immigration and border protection, Alex Hawke, has written to councils across Australia warning them against Australia Day changes. “Local councils are now on notice that if they politicise Australian citizenship, the government will see it as a breach of the [Australian Citizenship Ceremonies] code and take the appropriate action,” he said.