Joyce slams Australia Day date change plan

BARNABY Joyce has criticised the Greens' new plan to try and change the date of Australia Day, saying why he still he supports celebrations on the current date.

Joyce was making a new infrastructure announcement for inland rail in Parkes, NSW, where he was asked about the Australian Greens' new national campaign.

"I am not a supporter of changing Australia Day," he said

"I feel completely at ease with Australia Day. It is what you make of it.

"I am very proud of Australia Day."

He then referred to Austrlaia's indigenous people, and those who've come here from Greece, Italy, China, Japan, England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Even the Arctic Circle.

Mr Joyce said after they had "come to this nation", Australia was their home and there's a day to celebrate it.

"We have a day to celebrate it, and we call it Australia Day," he said.

 

Barnaby Joyce does not back calls to change the date of Australia Day. Picture: AAP
Barnaby Joyce does not back calls to change the date of Australia Day. Picture: AAP

He also said he thought the Greens believed Lachlan Macquarie and James Cook were "bad buggers".

Mr Joyce's comments do not deviate from the Turnbull Government's current position on Australia Day, which is that the date of it will remain on January 26.

However, the Greens are throwing their support behind a new campaign to change the date.

Greens councillors across the country who launch local campaigns to move the January 26 date have been told they can count on the full support and resources of the national party.

"All Australians want a day on which we can come together and to celebrate our wonderfully diverse, open and free society - but January 26 is not that day," Greens leader Richard Di Natale told Fairfax Media.

Australian Greens Leader Senator Richard Di Natale wants to change the date. Picture: AAP
Australian Greens Leader Senator Richard Di Natale wants to change the date. Picture: AAP

"It's time that we stop papering over an issue that for 200 years has been so divisive and painful for so many of our citizens."

Indigenous leaders have been pushing for the change in recent years, saying January 26 marks the date the First Fleet landed in Sydney Cove in 1788, marking the beginning of British colonisation.

The campaign comes after tennis legend Pat Cash revealed yesterday that he won't be celebrating Australia Day this year because he's "embarrassed" to be an Aussie.

The former Wimbledon champ says his work with indigenous charity Children's Ground has changed his perspective.

Referring to January 26 as "Invasion Day", Cash told Nine's Weekend Today the experience of working with Aboriginal communities left him shocked had moved him to tears.

"I got to the stage I cannot celebrate Australia Day. I'm sorry," he said.

Pat Cash feels embarrassed to be an Australian. Picture: Getty
Pat Cash feels embarrassed to be an Australian. Picture: Getty

"As an Australian who brought two Davis Cups home, representing my country, January 26 is not a day of celebration for me. People who really look into it would question that.

"That is not going to be a celebration for me, it's like an Invasion Day, celebrating white England - English landing.

"As you can see it has changed my life. Seeing what has gone on up there."

Cash's view on Australia Day comes after former Labor leader Mark Latham launched a separate campaign to save the date of Australia Day on January 26.

Former politician Mark Latham speaks to the media during a press conference on the Save Australia Day Campaign Launch in Sydney. Picture: AAP
Former politician Mark Latham speaks to the media during a press conference on the Save Australia Day Campaign Launch in Sydney. Picture: AAP

The ABC has also changed the date of its historic Hottest 100 Countdown on Triple J due to recent controversy surrounding the date.

Victoria's Yarra council also decided to no longer refer to January 26 as Australia Day and hold an indigenous-themed event instead of an annual citizenship ceremony on the day.

Another Melbourne council, The City of Darebin council, later dumped its Australia Day celebrations.



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