PM Wants New Day To Recognise Australia's Indigenous History
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called for a special day to be set aside to recognise Indigenous Australians, but doesn't want it to replace Australia Day.
The sentiment comes as the federal government has stripped a NSW council of its right to hold citizenship ceremonies, after it refused to hold them on the national holiday.
Morrison believes Australia Day should continue to be celebrated on January 26, but says a separate day should be created to acknowledge 60,000 years of Indigenous history.
"I also believe we need to honour and acknowledge in our national calendar our Indigenous peoples," he told The Daily Telegraph.
The prime minister on Monday hit out at a NSW council for deciding to move its official Australia Day ceremony to January 25.
Byron Shire Council will still hold some council events on January 26.
Morrison wrote on Facebook that the "modern Australian nation" began on January 26, 1788 and that was the day to reflect on what the nation had accomplished, become, and still had to achieve.
"Indulgent self-loathing doesn't make Australia stronger," he said.
"Being honest about the past does."
But Byron Mayor Simon Richardson said Australia Day caused pain in a section of the community and questioned whether the values of a fair go and mateship were being reflected.
"Is it true mateship to willingly, willfully and continually to celebrate what rightfully is great to be an Australian on a day that some Australians are pained by?" the Greens mayor told 3AW on Monday.
He said the prime minister's response was understandable but he found the remark about "modern Australia" interesting.
"I thought we were actually celebrating Australia Day, not 'modern' Australia Day," he said.
Immigration Minister David Coleman said the council had been stripped of its right to hold citizenship ceremonies because it chose to "politicise" them.
"Byron Council has sought to politicise what should be a non-political day of celebration that brings communities together," he said in a statement on Tuesday.
"The council's actions are divisive and the Australian government will not stand by and allow this to happen."
The government last year removed the right to host citizenship ceremonies from Melbourne's City of Yarra and Darebin councils after they voted not to hold them on January 26.
Lead photo: AAP