Australia Day: Do Jews celebrate holocaust?
A NORTH Queensland indigenous leader says Aborigines can't celebrate Australia Day on January 26 and has called for a mature debate on a new date.
Palm Island Shire Council Mayor Alf Lacey said he had always been a supporter of shifting the date to another day but did not name an alternative.
He said for all Australians to be included in celebrations on the day, common ground needed to be found.
"It's about reconciliation and recognition. Australia has to be mature enough to right the wrong of the past," he said.
The date of Australia Day, January 26, is controversial as it marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales, and the raising of the flag of Great Britain at Sydney Cove by Governor Arthur Phillip.
Opponents of the January 26 date have dubbed it "invasion day" but Mr Lacey said he preferred "survival day".
He said many indigenous communities in North Queensland did not celebrate on the day.
"Would the Jews celebrate the Holocaust?" Mr Lacey asked, referencing the genocide during World War II.
"Most indigenous communities I know of don't have the sausage sizzle and go to the beach which is commonly done elsewhere," he said.
Mr Lacey called for a mature debate on the issue to enable all Australians to feel included on the day.
"I'd encourage people to leave the race card out of it," he said. "We're trying to find common ground in terms of us as Australians. It should be about all of us coming together."
Herbert MP Cathy O'Toole said she advocated a debate about changing the date but said it needed be accompanied by a discussion about other indigenous issues including employment, housing and health.
"My personal view as a white Australian is that … I would like to have a conversation with the First Nation people first. This is about acknowledgment, reconciliation and respect," she said.
"Atrocities were committed by arrival of white Europeans and taking real action will lead us to a reasonable and measured conversation.
"Changing the date in itself will do very little to improve the living standards of indigenous Australians."
She said the curriculum in Australian schools did not "tell the truth" regarding the circumstances of the arrival of Europeans in Australia.