For many Australians, January 26th is a day to celebrate the birth of their nation but for a growing number of Aborigines the day is becoming known as ‘Invasion Day’.
Today, more than 300 people held a rally outside the Queensland Parliament building in Brisbane, then marched on the city and over Victoria Bridge to Musgrave Park, South Brisbane.
Aboriginal activist Sam Watson told the protestors Australia was a “monumental fraud”
“It’s an historical lie because on that day, January 26th, you had an armed force sail into sovereign waters of Aboriginal people and launched an invasion that’s lasted 223 years.
“[This] Australian Nation is a lie, it’s based on this lie of Terra Nulla, Terra Nullas which means land that is not owned by anyone. We owned and possessed this country and we still challenge that“.
Tasmanian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Nick McKim, called on Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, to move the date of Australia Day so that it could be fully celebrated by all Australians, including the Aboriginal community.
“Australia Day is a huge day of celebration, a well deserved public holiday, and a traditional day for catching up with family and friends, but this should include all Australians,” McKim said.
“But the current date for Australia Day of 26th January marks the disenfranchising of the Aboriginal nations, which means it is not a date that most Aboriginal Australians are happy to celebrate.
“Australia Day should be about bringing people together, but celebrating January 26 causes division and dissent. The date must be changed.”
However, Aboriginal MP Ken Wyatt said it was time to move on from any such debate.
” It’s time to draw a line in the sand and develop together as a nation because we share the same ground,” he said following a citizenship ceremony in his West Australian electorate of Hasluck.
“I hear so many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people around this nation say to people `share our country’. I think many of us have moved on significantly.”