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Australia Day Replacement

 

Australia Day Replacement

Australia day which is celebrated on the 26th of January each year is observed basically for citizens to rejoice being Australians and being grateful for what the country has given them. However, amid all this joie de vivre, there are undercurrents of extreme criticism with respect to the context of these celebrations.

Criticism of Australia Day

For a few Australians, Indigenous Australians in particular, this day represents adverse effects caused by British settlement towards them. In 1938 the celebrations were held alongside an “Aboriginal Day of Mourning”. In 1988, an “Invasion Day” was held by a large group of Aboriginal people to commemorate the loss of their indigenous culture. Sometimes, Australia day is observed as “Survival Day” to emphasize on the continued survival of the Aborigines. Following this, there have been attempts for the inclusion of this group of people in the official celebrations in some form or the other.

A major drawback of the present date is that it falls during the school vacation so schools are unable to involve students in the event. A fact that is conveniently put aside is that the first Australians were essentially convicts, criminals, so this date is really glorifying those people rather than a broader cross-section of the early settlers.

Suggested Australia Day Replacement Dates

Many alternative dates have been suggested for many different reasons as the present date which is used is considered to not have any particular national significance due to the reasons already mentioned above.

Other Suggested Dates

  • 1st January: This date was first suggested in 1957 but could not gather much momentum due to the fact that this was already a public holiday.
  • 25th January (Anzac Day): Tony Beddison called for this date to be used in 1999, and it was also mooted by Kim Beazley, Opposition Leader and the Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane, Peter Hollingworth. It was suggested again in 2001 by Peter Phillips, the president of the Returned and Services League (RSL). This was strongly opposed by the then Australian Prime Minister John Howard and surprisingly, Kim Beazley who clarified that although he was against this particular date, he considered Anzac Day as the real national day of Australia.
  • 9th May: (Opening of the first Federal Parliament): This was first suggested based on the installation of the first parliament in 1901 as well as the founding of the Provincial Parliament in 1927 on the same date. However the main constraint perceived in this case was due to the date coinciding with the beginning of winter.
  • 3rd December (Eureka Stockade): Although the Eureka Uprising is considered to be when Australian Democracy was born, the idea was rejected as it was seen as being much against the British Colonialists.
    • 1st September (Wattle Day)
    • 9th July (Constitution Day)
    • 3rd March (Anniversary Day of the Australian Act)
    • 13th February (date of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's apology)

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