A Sydney MP was accused of treating Indigenous Australians as « helpless victims » for suggesting that they observe a minute’s silence during Australia Day ceremonies.
Warringah Independent MP Zali Steggall has urged councils across the country and her constituents to take up the silence of the minute as part of their January 26 recognition of the country to the lives lost since the first fleet arrived at Port Jackson in 1788 Recognize indigenous people.
Ms. Steggall, who ousted former Prime Minister Tony Abbott from his seat in 2019, wrote to the Australian Local Government Association and mayors of the North Sydney, Mosman and Northern Beaches councils asking them to consider her proposal, the Manly Daily reported Tuesday .
« There should be a formal recognition of the loss, harm and suffering of our indigenous community on January 26th, » said Ms. Steggall.
« The councils play an important role in commemorating this day by hosting numerous formal and informal ceremonies and activities for their communities. However, January 26th triggers a range of emotions for many in our community. »
RELATED: Invasion Day gatherings on January 26th, Australia Day March canceled
The former Olympic skier said while the date marked the beginning of European colonization, it also « marked the beginning of violence, disempowerment and displacement of our indigenous communities that have created grief, discrimination and hardship that have lasted for generations ».
« It is only right that we acknowledge everything that this day represents and incorporate remembrance of our ceremonies to recognize the price that the first Australians paid, » she said.
Alice Springs councilor Jacinta Price has struck back and told radio station 2 GB that Ms. Steggall « must stop painting indigenous Australians as helpless victims who have no agency and are unable to move forward within our nation ».
Ms. Price, who is also director of indigenous research at the Conservative Center for Independent Studies think tank, said National Sorry Day on May 26 was already being used to commemorate « what happened in our country’s history » while Australia Day is « about being inclusive and involving absolutely everyone who makes Australia a great nation ».
« The truth is that the very first round of protest by the Aboriginal Progressive Association on January 26, 1938 was about the desire to achieve full citizenship and equality within the community. That is what they fought for, » she said.
« When the Citizenship Act of 1949 was passed on January 26th, all Australians became Australian citizens and no longer British subjects. So it is a significant day in that regard that all of us, including indigenous Australians, became Australian citizens. »
She noted that January 26 remains the most popular day of the year when people become Australian citizens.
« I think Zali needs to learn a little bit more about our country’s history rather than using flat, wakeful pc methods to deal with these specific issues, » Ms. Price said.
« Australia Day is about celebrating together what we have achieved as a nation, everyone’s contribution to this nation. Sometimes I think we forget that there are people who have come from other parts of the world to Australia to make it their home, not just black and black and white. If we continue to feed into the activist narrative, we will enable narcissistic behavior. »
Ms. Price suggested that if « people are taking this idea of healing seriously, why not use Australia Day morning to complete the act of healing and use forgiveness to move forward ».
« Australians lean back to recognize and support Indigenous Australia and there is a lot of goodwill that has been exploited and it’s nonsense. It has to stop and we have to stop putting ourselves in the gap. »
It comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s administration warned local councils not to use COVID-19 as an excuse to cancel Australia Day celebrations and citizenship ceremonies.
While most community councils are still holding ceremonies as needed, some have announced they will be canceling them out of solidarity with invasion day activists or due to the pandemic.
The federal government previously stripped Melbourne inner-city councils, Yarra and Darebin, of their power to hold citizenship ceremonies after they voted in 2017 to stop calling January 26 Australia Day.
« For any council looking to play with Australia Day citizenship ceremonies, our message is simple – not, » Hawke told The Australian last week.
While Invasion Day rallies have grown in numbers over the past five years, polls have shown that the vast majority of Australians support observing Australia Day on January 26th.
A new poll released Monday by the Institute for Public Affairs found that 69 percent of Australians support January 26th, while only 11 percent believe the date should be changed.
The percentage wanting a date change has flattened out over the four years the conservative think tank conducted the same survey.
« Despite the weary narrative being pressured by a minority of activists to change the date, support for their cause has not moved, » said Dr. Bella d’Abrera, director of the Fundamentals of Western Civilization program at IPA, in a statement.
« The Australians are fed up with being told that they must be ashamed of their country and that it is wrong to celebrate its success. »
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