Rally urges ‘respectful’ new date

Rally urges ‘respectful’ new date

By ADAM LANGENBERG, Examiner Jan. 26, 2016, 11:18 p.m.

Michael Mansell

HOBART’S Invasion Day rally continues to increase in attendance, according to its organisers.

More than 300 people marched through central Hobart to Parliament lawns to call for the date of Australia Day to be changed.

Tasmanian Aboriginal activist Michael Mansell said the rally was getting bigger every year.

He said the only significance of January 26 was the arrival of white Australians, which meant Australia Day was a ‘‘race-based national day’’.

‘‘We want to question, out of the 365 days that could have been chosen, why did they choose January 26,’’ he said.

Musician John Butler said blindly celebrating on January 26 was exclusive.

‘‘I want a national day we can all celebrate,’’ he said.

Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre state secretary Trudy Maluga said January 26 was a day of murder and great pain for Indigenous Australians.

‘‘For years we have heard talk on a national level of reconciliation between whites and blacks, but how can we that ever be achieved if Australians won’t change the date of their national day to a day that doesn’t offend and marginalise Aboriginal people,’’ she said.

‘‘We are calling on the wider community, state and federal politicians, local councils – everyone, to support changing the date of Australia day to a more inclusive and less racist date.’’

Greens Aboriginal Affairs spokeswoman Cassy O’Connor said the time was right to find a ‘‘new, more respectful date’’ to celebrate Australia’s national identity.

Premier Will Hodgman said he understood the sensitivity within the Aboriginal community about the date Australia Day was celebrated.

‘‘While we do not propose a change of date, this does not in any way lessen our genuine desire for reconciliation and positive outcomes,’’ he said.

Opposition leader Bryan Green said: “I welcome a community conversation about changing the date of Australia Day.

‘‘Australia Day should be a day of celebration for all Australians.”