Call to Replace Queen's Birthday With Indigenous Public Holiday

The day would acknowledge 60,000 years of indigenous history.

What you need to know
  • A NSW Labor Government will replace the Queen's Birthday with an Indigenous public holiday
  • Labor believes it's the next step towards reconciliation
  • One proposal will wait until Queen Elizabeth's reign is over before the change is made

The NSW Labor Government wants to replace the Queen's Birthday public holiday with one that acknowledges Indigenous Australians.

The change will seek to make the day more relevant to Australians by acknowledging 60,000 years of indigenous history.

"We are fortunate here that we are home to the oldest continuing civilisation in the world and that is something we should want to celebrate," NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley told media on Tuesday.

"Of course, the second Monday in June is not the birthday of the Queen ... her birthday is actually in April, so I don't think she will be too disappointed if the state of New South Wales in Australia no longer celebrates her birthday a couple of months after it is held each year," he said.

Foley justified his intention to replace the holiday, rather than create an entirely new one, by citing the burden public holidays place on small businesses.

"I am not going to load employers and business up with an additional public holiday with the expense to employers that, that would entail," Foley said.

Labor Candidate for Newtown Aunty Norma Ingram said she supported Foley's plan to change the day.

"I have always supported the republican movement and we do admire the Queen of England and the work that she does in England ... I support Luke Foley on what we are going to do for Labor," she said.

Aunty Norma Ingram and Luke Foley addressing media on Tuesday. Image: NSW Labor

Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs David Harris said the change would offer vital recognition to Australia's indigenous population and is the next natural step towards reconciliation.

“It’s important for us to build on the existing relationship with the NSW Aboriginal community to empower them to achieve lasting generational change," Harris said.

Labor also wants the Aboriginal flag permanently flown on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Foley said there are a number of options for the transition of the Queen's Birthday holiday to an Indigenous one. One of these includes waiting for Queen Elizabeth's reign to end before the switch is made.

Mr Foley has also said if elected, his government will negotiate a treaty between the government and the state's Aboriginal people.

This proposed follows growing controversy surrounding the Australian Day public holiday. There are calls to change the national day to make it more inclusive of the people to lived here when the British ships arrived on Australian soil.

For some indigenous Australians, January 26 not a celebration of Australia, but rather, a reminder of the day they lost their land, culture and freedom at the hands of colonisation.

"Celebrating it [on January 26] ignores the truths of our shared history and is akin to asking Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to celebrate their own invasion and dispossession," the ANTaR's website reads.

"At the heart of reconciliation is an acceptance of the history of past injustices to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people."

The NSW state election will be held in March 2019.