Politics

Instead Of Scrapping Australia Day, The PM Wants A Separate Day For Indigenous Australians

Because when has that ever gone wrong?

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison wants a new public holiday to celebrate Indigenous Australian culture and history, but it won’t replace Australia Day on January 26.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Morrison said that Australia’s historical narrative was “not perfect”, but that January 26 was a day on which the country changed forever, and should be celebrated.

“We know there are things that have happened, like in every country, that have left deep scars, particularly in relation to the treatment and experience of Indigenous Australians,” Morrison said.

“Such scars should not provide an invitation for self-loathing, but a reminder of what we have learned and how we have become a better nation.”

Morrison’s defence of Australia Day comes after Byron Bay Shire Council last week announced that it would shift its national day celebrations — including the council’s citizenship ceremony — to January 25.

The PM has since called that council a “taxpayer-funded version of GetUp!” and stripped them of their ability to host citizenship ceremonies.

In a statement, Minister for Immigration David Coleman said that the date change amounted to divisive politicisation.

“Byron Council has sought to politicise what should be a non-political day of celebration that brings communities together. The Council’s actions are divisive and the Australian Government will not stand by and allow this to happen,” he said.

But Morrison has revealed a separate desire: to create a separate national holiday to honour Indigenous Australians.

“I also believe we need to honour and acknowledge in our national calendar our Indigenous peoples,” he said.

“Rather than further conflict and argument, this is how I believe we can work together to bring and keep Australians together.”

Last year, Melbourne’s Darebin and Yarra councils voted to host their citizenship ceremonies on a day other than January 26.

The Turnbull government stripped the council of its ability to hold citizenship ceremonies in response.