Greens make date with ‘In­va­sion Day’ ral­lies

The Weekend Australian - - THE NATION - GREG BROWN

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.

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