Australia Day change of date discussion

It’s almost that time of year again, Jan 26. Most Australians celebrate this day as the day Captain Arthur Phillip took formal possession of the colony of New South Wales and raised the British flag for the first time in Sydney Cove in 1788.

However Aboriginals, Torres Strait Islanders and a growing number of Australians view this day as ‘Invasion Day’, 'Day of Mourning’, ‘Survival Day’ or, more recently ‘Aboriginal Sovereignty Day’. They consider it a day of mourning, a day when the Brittish first arrived and started to slaughter and the dispossession of Aborigines. The Aboriginals were no match for the firepower that the Brittish had.

For many decades the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been marching in protest on this day on parliament houses, across bridges and a tent embassy in Canberra. More and more people are starting to come to terms with how Aboriginal people feel about this and a growing movement to change the date of Australia day to one that is more inclusive which all cultures can enjoy together without the baggage that comes with the 26th Jan.

There have been many dates thrown around but I find of it were to happen then it should be on another significant day. Here are a few of the dates that I have the most support for.

  1. 03/03/1986 It’s not a date we invaded. Not one of the countless dates we attempted to say sorry for the invasion, but the date we said to the country that did the invasion: “you have no say over us any longer!” It was the day that Brittish courts no longer had authority to override Australian courts. I think it’s a date that could get some support, but it’s sadly all but unknown.

  2. 27/05/1967 - The day that 90% of the population voted in a referendum to recognize indigenous Australians in the constitution [Constitution Alteration (Aboriginals) 1967]. An alternative day to this could be 10/08/1967 when the referendum results became law.

A possible future date is if we gain our complete independence from England, a day that can be celebrated by everyone.

Tl;dr Australia day is coming up and the usual debate about whether Australia day should be changed. I’m interested to see what you guys think and also any other dates that could be put in the ring as a possible alternative day with greater meaning to everyone who lives in this country.


I would favour the last option you alluded to - essentially, replace the current celebration with “Republic Day”. Declare the Republic on say the 15th of January (or thereabouts), maintaining the Summery goodness of the existing date.


Let’s be perfectly clear. Australia Day has not been celebrated 200 times and in point of detail the standardisation of 26th January has only been true since 1994. Look at any image of old medallions and you will see things like “Australia Day, 30th July, 1915.” I am pretty sure I’ve seen a slew of dates in April (mainly wartime years) but anyway the point is loyalty to the one date is only fairly recent behaviour.


Sorry, I didn’t realise this or actually see this anywhere I’ve looked, only that it was first celebrated 30 years after landing in Sydney cove. I’ve eddited my original post to reflect, thanks for the heads up.

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I’m all for having a day off around late January and most people don’t see it as a connection to Colonialism, just an extra day to enjoy Summer with their family and friends.

Having said that, the issue of Aboriginal rights goes much deeper than just a date. The political system needs proper reform to give Indigenous people proper representation in issue which have huge impacts to them. Just “allowing” them to vote now is not nearly enough. Give them proper recognition, and then just pick a date late January/Early February to swear it in, make that the date.


I understand that Aboriginal reforms need much more attention then a date change but I believe in small steps to make big changes, this is just another one of those small steps in the right direction. I only brought it up because I haven’t seen anywhere on here reguarding it so I was curious to see what you guys think or whether it should be put off until we become a republic and make the date then.

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becoming a Republic is not going to happen for a long time, especially while the Queen is still alive (already tried, failed). Aboriginal Rights don’t need to wait on that. It’s a separate issue. Date change only has sentimental value, people less progressive than us will think “oh they got their date change they should be happy, now they want more???” and make the more important changes much harder to get through.

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Fixing the system so everyone has fair input and representation? Yeah, we’re in the process of getting designs on that. It’s very easy to observe that voting at the moment isn’t sufficient for the vast majority of people to have their views represented on issues that have huge impact to them.

On the other hand, if you meant to suggest giving Aboriginals specific representation because they’re Aboriginal, then I hope that never happens. Nothing good would come of creating arbitrary ethnic inequality like that.

The standardisation of the holiday was in 1994, but it would appear that there is a long history of the date that does indeed go back around 200 years.

Personally I’d pick a date from one of the constitutional conventions that occured in the runup to federation, since those are actually relevant to when Australia became its own geopolitical entity. That includes quite a few dates from late January through mid March, amongst others. The 2nd of March, from 1891 when the first convention was convened would be a good candidate.

Of the dates you suggest, 3/3/1986 is much too recent, and 27/5/1967 along with 10/8/1967 both aren’t tied to Australia becoming Australia.

But I put this as about the same level of importance as changing the flag. Nice to do, and probably should get done at some point, but there are much bigger issues.


I have been hearing that more lately with regards to saying sorry, recognition and stuff like that. But no matter what you do, people will still be reflecting that idea, some people don’t like change, are stubborn or are just racist about issues that don’t directly benefit themaelves.

I was thinking if we have some sort of policy on it, even a basic one. Nothing has to be set in stone, it can always be altered but I feel we should have something even if it is a small piece to start off with and work from there. The more policies and in the more areas we have, the more I think it would benefit the party, it doesn’t have to be one of our main policies just something we are open and willing to change and if it ever does come up in the public discussion and we have a bigger public image we can point to it in our policies and say that we have put serious thought into it and are open and willing to change the date.

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Upon further consideration, any date in March might be bunching public holidays up a bit too much. Maybe 6/2/1890 then, the start of the conference that recommended the convention to draft the constitution. Still plenty of options to choose from.

How about the Party adopt the position the date will be the anniversary of the passing of a Bill successfully resolving the issue of indigenous representation? Sure that hasn’t happened yet — so the holiday may have to be suspended for quite a bit — but might focus things and give a certain incentive for resolution…

How about no. That has nothing to do with Australia becoming a country. It also sounds like a suggestion to create social inequality along ethnic lines (see my initial comments) which would be against the party constitution.

I’m not going to weigh in on party business, but I will point out that giving Indigenous people proper representation is not “inequality”, rather that the current system is unequal and any change would be to bring equal representation.

Aboriginals were not a stakeholder in the original constitution even though all the british colonies were, and there is even space for New Zealand to join, whereas Aboriginals were specifically excluded.

That specific exclusion has been taken out but the constitution thankfully but the system still has fundamental incompatibilities with their culture.

For one, they are under represented because all the States and the Electorates within are Gerrymandered so that any region with a high Indigenous population is balanced out by White people, or where that’s impractical they are lumped into the “Northern Territory” which structurally has less representation than states.

Meanwhile Aboriginal populations are suffering real poverty and social issues, and laws, often draconian ones (i.e. Alcohol Bans and Cashless Welfare) and being passed without adequate representation of the interests of the people living there.

It’s not simply a racial divide. You could hypothetically have a suburb in Sydney full of white people which the Parliament has a grudge against for some reason and they keep passing laws to hurt them which they don’t have the power to stop, and that would be the exact same situation.

It’s just about giving a voice to people who are actually affected by laws which impact them, which is more equal.


It’s easier to freeze the ASX cash index for 2 mins every time someone in the country dies. That’s not a halt, the trades should effectively result in a mean and median price stagnant for 2 mins for the ASX index.

Optional is to use that money from lost volatility to insure larger groups around the death.

Okay, here’s the problem:

Are you proposing a separate set of electoral rules for Aboriginals to ensure they get what you perceive to be “proper” representation? One rule for some, another rule for others is very much inequality and not something PPAU can support.

Or are you proposing changes to the system so that everyone gets represented fairly? Something I am in complete agreement with and that we have ongoing discussions about.

What makes me believe you and tjc are pushing something similar to the former rather than the latter, is that you two keep going on about the Aboriginal angle when unfair representation is not an Aboriginal issue. Not even close. As can be easily shown by comparing the 2016 federal election results with Australian racial demographics.

Systemic defacto gerrymandering? Applies to everyone who votes for a non-Labor, non-Liberal-National party, and even a lot who do. Which is a much greater portion of the population than those who are Aboriginal. It’s also an issue I’ve been complaining about for years.

People on welfare? Overwhelming majority are not Aboriginal, which again has to be the case due to the demographics of the overall population, without even considering specifics. Of particular interest is that cashless welfare both had (past tense, I know) support from local Aboriginal leaders, and is not a racially discriminatory policy.

Alcohol bans? Partial bans have been applied or attempted to be applied in Sydney and Brisbane, very much not high % Aboriginal population areas. And the Northern Territory where there are total bans? The parliament there currently has a higher proportion of Aboriginals than the general population of the place.

An example of a non-Aboriginal group the government has a grudge against and loves to bash? Try the unemployed.

Basically, by emphasising a desired fix for only a small portion of the affected population, you give the impression that you want everyone to be equal but for some to be more equal than others.

The line of logic is that Australia day is both named for and is for celebrating Australia. So an appropriate date for it would be a date connected to the geopolitical entity called Australia somehow. And the first candidates that come to mind are dates involved in the formation of the country, ie Federation. Who the stakeholders were at that time is irrelevant.

The Aborigines only come into it in that the current 26th of January date is an insult to them. And I agree that’s a good point. It’s not a date that satisfies the above line of logic either, so it was a poor choice all round.

@jedb: It is kind of rare for @Simon and I to be on the same side of an argument so let’s just bask in the congeniality.

In all other respects my interest in further participating in this line of discussion just died a death. I’m out of this one as of right now.

I don’t care what PPAU supports, I am only talking about the issue itself.

I did not make any suggestion as to HOW equality could be achieved.

Just that there is inequality which is particularly profound within the Aboriginal community more than any other group by a mile and the areas which they just so happen to predominantly live in are often singled out to be given a raw deal.

WHY? I believe that at it’s root, it’s because these areas do not have as much political representation to act in their interests as other areas do, and this is by design by putting most of where they live into 2 massive electorates (1 WA + 1 NT) + a maximum of 2 Senators in NT. Fun fact: The whole of NT was just one electorate until 2000. If the Aboriginal vote mattered, they would get things which mattered to them.

When the States came together for the constitution, they each made sure that they would each get an equal voice to represent their interests. Where were the First Nations of the land? Specifically excluded and barred from voting. When they did finally get a vote, they did not get equal representation like everyone else. They are not even considered on the same level as a nation.

Your point hammers home why January 26 is such an offensive date, because Australia already was a nation before then it was the date in which that was officially replaced. Some Treaties were signed in subsequent January 26 after that but that has been proven to not be enough to remove the offensiveness of this date. Perhaps total reform would be big enough to do the trick? But why take that risk when you can just choose another day.

When Kevin Rudd said Sorry, there was no actual action to repair the damage already done.

Many white families have generations of family to financially support each other and pass on other opportunities. Aboriginal families have been discriminated against since the time White people settled Australia and have not had much opportunity to build up their wealth, even to the point of literally having their children taken away from them and those children having to start their family tree again, while having their whole family past been whitewashed.

What about the social issues introduced to them by Whites?

Do you think that the pioneers have them plentiful amounts of Alcohol out of the goodness of their hearts? No, they wanted them to get pissed all the time so that they become pacified rather than a threat.

You can’t ethically just say “Ok you’re equal now! goodbye” without fixing all the problems caused.

Two party preferred duopoly is by design, not an accident. Most people on welfare or in prison are not Aboriginal, because they are still an absolute minority, but as a proportion of total aboriginal people it is the highest.

There are often Aboriginal Leaders who have been swayed by the Government for support Alcohol Bans for example, then go on to regret that as a mistaken. Convincing one Leader is easy, but that is undemocratic to place the interests of a population on one person’s opinion.

Maybe there could be such a structure (which has been proposed before) where Aboriginal people have more power over of Aboriginal affairs which only affect Aboriginal people.

If you think that Aboriginal people don’t deserve their own structure even though the current structure is not working for them, or that there are a social group which has been disadvantaged more than anyone else in Australia and it will take them a long time to catch up, then perhaps there are alternatives where anyone or any group not in government can force policy change (with enough support) but without running for parliament.

But that’s even more of a threat to LNP-Labor which would be even harder to ever happen.

Right now, the inequality of the Indigenous Community needs fixing. Perhaps if we reach the point that they are now statistically “equal” to everyone else that those “inequal” mechanisms can be removed, but until then they are almost certainly necessary to right a wrong.

The analogy would be like having a kid who has been caged, beaten and excluded all their life until they reach 16 and then set free and told “you are EQUAL now” and expect them to complete High School just like all the other students with no integration support whatsoever.


Could happen sooner then we think.

I think we should have a treaty and the date of the signing of the treaty should be Australia Day. It should also be used for the Australian Republic day when it is finally voted in.


And if an indigenous elder isn’t elected as first president, we have failed.