Greens make date with ‘Invasion Day’ rallies
Greens MPs will attend “Invasion Day” rallies around the nation on Australia Day, as they ramp up pressure on Bill Shorten to support changing the date from January 26.
The minor party’s indigenous affairs spokeswoman, Rachel Siewert, said the Opposition Leader — who is also Labor’s indigenous affairs spokesman — was out of step with the majority of Aboriginal Australians by opposing changing the date of Australia Day.
The West Australian senator said Mr Shorten was walking “both sides of the fence” by welcoming a debate about changing the date but opposing a change.
“He says ‘yeah we know a lot of Aboriginal people aren’t happy with it’, but he still thinks we should be celebrating on that day. He is trying to have it both ways,” Senator Siewert told The Weekend Australian.
Senator Siewert said representatives from the left-wing party would attend rallies protesting against the date in Sydney, Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane, as well as campaigning in the lead-up to January 26.
“Change the date is part of addressing truth and healing and becoming a reconciled nation,” she said. “I am not for one minute saying this is the only thing we should be doing. It is part of what we need to be addressing if we are going to move and address our unfinished business.”
Mr Shorten declined to comment yesterday but his office provided his comments on the issue from January last year.
“I understand there’s a range of views about when Australia Day should be. I’m on the record as supporting Australia Day staying on January 26,” he said at the time.
The Coalition government has banned the Victorian councils of Yarra and Darebin from conducting citizenship ceremonies because they would not hold them on Australia Day as part of their opposition of the date of the national day.
The councils of Moreland (Victoria), Fremantle (Western Australia) and Byron Bay (NSW) do not hold Australia Day events on January 26 but continue to conduct citizenship ceremonies.
Labor MP Warren Snowdon — whose electorate of Lingiari has the highest proportion of indigenous Australians — said the date of Australia Day was barely ever raised by his constituents.
Mr Snowdon, who is also Labor’s spokesman on indigenous health, said there were far greater issues concerning Aboriginal people than changing the date.