Sydney’s Inner West Council could be the first local government in Sydney to ditch Australia Day festivities.
Greens councillor Tom Kiat is moving a motion at the next council meeting, on February 13th, titled ‘Recognising January 26 as a day of invasion, mourning and survival‘.
The motion calls on the Inner West Council to acknowledge “that January 26 marks the beginning of the British invasion of the lands of First Nations people” and “the first Day of Mourning was held 80 years ago on January 26, 1938, being the 150th anniversary of the British invasion”.
The Greens are planning a national campaign to move the date and calls on local councils to support the #ChangeTheDate campaign and advocate the federal government to change the date of Australia Day. Kiat also wants the council to stop holding events on January 26, and to no longer refer to the day as Australia Day.
Nathan Moran, the CEO of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council said: “The arrival of the First Fleet and the raising of the flag of Great Britain at Sydney Cove by Governor Phillip is a date of significance, but for MLALC it’s not a day for national celebration. For MLALC and Aboriginal people generally January 26 represents the establishment of the British penal colony and commencement of war against First Nations Australians to dispossess them of their estates.”
The federal government has responded to the campaign. “The Greens political party will not be allowed to hijack Australia Day through a small group of Greens controlled local councils,” the assistant minister for immigration and border protection, Alex Hawke, said in a statement last year. “The overwhelming majority of Australians support Australia Day remaining on January 26.”
While it seems that the population is still divided on this issue, it does appear that governments are becoming more progressive, leaning towards a more positive change.