Repub­lic on the cards

Hills Gazette (Kalamunda) - - AUSTRALIA DAY 2018 -

INDIGENOUS fed­eral front­bencher Ken Wy­att says the de­bate over a new date for Australia Day will stop when the nation be­comes a repub­lic, a change he sug­gests is in­evitable within the next 10 years.

He be­lieves the mo­men­tum for a repub­lic would be sup­ported by a younger gen­er­a­tion “less wed to the monar­chy with a strong sense of na­tional iden­tity”.

“At one time you could have said Aus­tralians would not sup­port same-sex mar­riage, but we’ve ma­tured and grown, and changed,” he said.

De­bate over a new date is au­di­ble in Min­is­ter Wy­att’s elec­torate of Hasluck.

“I’ve had con­stituents say don’t move the date and calls from peo­ple who say how can you not sup­port your own peo­ple?” he said.

“Australia Day has be­come more fo­cused on na­tion­al­ism and by that I mean we take great pride in the nation we’ve be­come, but equally there are peo­ple that would like to see a change of date.”

He said cel­e­bra­tions on Jan­uary 26, which be­came a pub­lic hol­i­day in 1994, had be­come sig­nif­i­cant in the past five years.

“To some ex­tent, the sur­vey that was un­der­taken re­cently clearly showed a lot of Aus­tralians do not know the ori­gin of Australia Day other than a day of cel­e­brat­ing be­ing Aus­tralian and the way of life we have with fam­ily and friends,” he said.

How­ever, for Abo­rig­i­nal Aus­tralians the date re­flects the ar­rival of the first fleet of Bri­tish ships in 1788.

He said a change of date re­quired the con­sen­sus of Aus­tralians.

“This time, there is a

height­ened sense of a change be­cause it’s come from Richard Di Natale and the Greens writ­ing to lo­cal gov­ern­ments, but the gov­ern­ment needs to take into con­sid­er­a­tion the views of Aus­tralians be­cause we’re ask­ing peo­ple to re­think what Australia Day is.

“What does worry me is whether we cre­ate a divi­sion within this de­bate in a way that is un­savoury,” he said.

Ken Wy­att wore a tra­di­tional cloak when he was sworn in as Min­is­ter for Aged Care and Indigenous Health on Jan­uary 24, 2017.

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