Cry for date with deference

Written By miftah nugraha on Minggu, 27 Januari 2013 | 19.55

PROTEST POINT: Supporters of a new Australia Day date rally in Hobart. Picture: LEIGH WINBURN

TASMANIAN Aborigines have renewed their call for a new date for national celebrations to be held in Australia.

Hundreds took to the streets of Hobart yesterday, and many more nationwide, to raise awareness for a new, genuinely inclusive day of celebration that offended no one.

Tasmanian Aboriginal leader Michael Mansell said the campaign to change to a more appropriate date, rather than the one marking where one race invaded the nation of another, continued to grow.

"As long as they have Australia Day, we will be here," he said.

"If something is right, it is just a matter of persevering and persevere we will."

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Cassy O'Connor said now was the time for thoughtful and reasoned debate about the appropriateness of celebrating Australia's national identity on January 26.

"There can be no chance of true reconciliation until we change the date of our national day," she said.

"The date of our national day should unite, not divide us as a country of many peoples, and it should respect the first people."

Social justice lawyer and Mercury columnist Greg Barns said it was impossible to have a day which purported to celebrate the achievements of a nation when the original owners of that nation were excluded.

He said Australia could only move on when the day became just another day in January.

"You can only have a true Australia Day when you have a day that is acceptable to the Aboriginal community and which recognises that community in this country," he said.

Rocker and music festival curator Brian Ritchie who became an Australian citizen last year said Australia Day should allow everyone to celebrate without shame, ambivalence or reservations.

"Nothing can reverse the damage done in the past but it is not an unreasonable request to ask the majority to accept a date change as a conciliatory gesture," he said.

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