In defence of Australia Day

Away from the barbecues and beaches, thousands in cities across Australia took part in what they called "Invasion Day" protests, with many calling for the date of the holiday to be changed.

Protesters draped in Aboriginal flags marched through Sydney on Australia Day branding the arrival of the first white settlers in 1788 as the day when the "killing started".

In business, they say, the most expensive or unsafe words one can utter are: "we've always done it this way".

Queensland's premier also defended the date as 1,000 people marched through Brisbane's streets in opposition.

While the rallies were mostly peaceful, a 20-year-old man was arrested in Sydney and a police officer and protester were injured.

"I hope we will look back on this as one of the many small steps we took as a country towards reconciliation and towards really healing and understanding ourselves and our past", he said. One senator described those calling for the holiday's date to be changed as "left-wing activists and latte-sipping apologists".

"We have a democracy and everybody has the right to protest but today's about everything that brings us together", Berejiklian said.

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Consequently, some Aboriginal people and a number of other Australians see Australia Day as a day of mourning - as first marked in 1938 - while others simply believe it is offensive to Aboriginal Australians.

Deputy Prime Minster Barnaby Joyce also lashed out against protesters, defaulting to the familiar right-wing slogan "political correctness gone mad". Much like the controversy over the meaning of Columbus Day in the USA, many are now calling for Australia to recognize that the "founding" of Australia meant the colonization and continued subjugation of its indigenous people.

However several politicians came out in support of changing the date.

Police say an officer was hospitalised after injuring his ankle during the march, which was organised to protest the date of Australia Day.

LGBTI Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices are often left out of important conversations in each of those communities, so we chose to ask three queer Indigenous voices how they feel about Australia Day.

"This is not about pleasing people, it is about uniting people", the typically conservative MacFarlane wrote.

"It is the day British boats launched a war of genocide against Indigenous Australians, which continues today". "There's different points of view on what should be done and how things should be done but the main objective, and what we're all striving for regardless of our points of view, is to move forward".

  • Carlos Nash