Table of Contents
Summary of the Debate
Summary of the Debate
The debate regarding the holding of Australia Day on the 26th of January has been a key area of contention for several years. While governments and opposition parties have typically tended to maintain that it should stay the same predominantly owing to the custom nature of the celebrations, protesters across the country have weighed in on how the occasion is a day of mourning and must be changed. The key facets of the debate included stances that put forward both the viewpoints of letting Australia Day being postponed as a national holiday from the 26th of January, which was the stance that our team took along with the opposing stance that stated how Australia Day should remain as a customary holiday stipulated on the 26th of January.
The debate started off with the arguments for how the Australia Day celebrations should be postponed from the 26th of January citing a few very important statistics. One such statistic was the overall public opinion as to whether the day should be changed, which was a survey result conducted by The New Daily. 60.3% of the respondents mentioned that the celebration should be ideally postponed while 39.7% opined that it should remain on the 26th of January (Kelly, 2020). The key fundamental of our stance in terms of the reasoning behind shifting Australia Day from the 26th of January was how it was symbolic of the start of the rule of oppression for the original inhabitants of the country. The need for a day of reflection was a key highlight, as the start of the white rule within Australia led to a systemic manner of suppression of the Aboriginal people, who are widely attributed to have been the first citizens of Australia. In the context of understanding the controversy behind the Australia Day celebrations, it is important to understand why the sentiment behind the holiday is so strong. 26th January 1788 was the day when the first fleet of Britain set foot into the Sydney Harbor, thus embarking upon the initiation of colonization of Australia by European supremacists.
The white supremacists took over the lands deeming it as uninhabited, and this was despite the large presence of indigenous people within the islands comprising of the Aboriginal and the Torres Strait Islander populations. Several Australian citizens, and more specifically people belonging to the Aboriginal tribes, have gradually gone on to recognize the 26th of January celebrations as ‘Invasion Day’. Furthermore, the debate also put forward how numerous local councils have also pushed towards changing the date for the celebrations of Australia Day from
the 26th of January to another date (Ben Westcott, 2020). The Aboriginal consensus and the people from the Torres Strait Islands form a significant component of the Australian population, which makes it imperative for the governments to accommodate and factor in their voices and opinions. While conservative governments have maintained that changing the date would erode the significance of the holiday, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have continually maintained that the celebrations of the 26th of January are only an insult to the years of oppression they have had to suffer.
The stance taken up by the other team primarily highlighted how Australia Day was an occasion where all the citizens of the country including the Aboriginal and the Torres Strait Islander people came together in harmony. However, this was certainly not the case, as we rebutted their statement saying how Aboriginal activists have consistently maintained that the day should be a day of mourning. The opponent team further mentioned that the urban society that had led to the rapid developments within Australia in pushing the economy had gone far behind the mourning associated with the British invasion. The team also mentioned how several Aborigines were also in support of keeping the celebrations of Australia Day as it is because it simply did not matter to them and they had their individual lives to live. However, we brought the attention of the session to the fact that numerous protests are held across different states of Australia annually regarding the very same issue. Furthermore, the numbers that take part in the protests have only increased progressively, with a growing number of the white consensus joining the protests to walk hand in hand with their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brethren.
The arguments put forward by our team were certain more evidence-based and stronger than the stance put forward by the opponent team in terms of changing the celebrations of Australia Day from the 26th of January. Several previous governments have been accused of politicizing the issue to leverage personal interests and vote banks, which further adds injury to the insult for the Aboriginal consensus. Although the majority of the governmental stances have held that the celebrations remain as it is, the city of Yarra in Melbourne decided that the citizenship ceremonies would no longer be held on the 26th of January. Furthermore, the City of Darebin followed along soon after, ceasing to hold any celebrations for Australia Day on the aforementioned date and officially declaring the 26th of January as a day of mourning (The Guardian, 2017). Furthermore, the ideology behind Australia Day was also highlighted in our argument relating to the stance that we took and how it was important for the younger generations to understand the plight that the Aboriginal people went through.
In conclusion, the debate was an enriching experience by all means, and while the stances taken were distinctly opposing as would have been the case, the arguments were certainly justifiable and based on evidence. From a comparative point of view, the fact that the date should be changed from the 26th of January finds a higher degree of merit and certainly gained prominence even as the debate was in progress. The aspect of uniting Australians and dividing Australians based on a customary day of celebrations was highlighted throughout the debate session, and it became a major area of discussion as to how the changing the date for Australia Day was increasingly beginning to gain momentum.
The topic of the debate is regarding the justification behind the celebration of Australia Day on 26 January. I have been incepted as the second person in the debate. I have stood in favour of not celebrating Australia Day on 26 January and thereby change it to a new date that would be suitable for the residents of Australia. The members of my opposition are of the view that Australia Day brings about a sense of diversity among all the residents of the country including the Aborigines and other indigenous tribes who have stayed in Australia for more than 60,000 years (Lipscombe, Dzidic& Garvey, 2019). They say that 75% of Australians have the notion of celebrating the Australian Day on 26 January as it brings about a sense of cultural diversity among the people of the country.
Furthermore, 46% of the residents believe that the day brings about a sense of freedom they enjoy to stay in Australia as residents of an independent nation. They also say that Australia Day helps in acknowledging and celebrating the contribution of very Australian in making it a dynamic as well as the contemporary nation. The statistics of the Government of Australia also reveal that 54% of the residents of the country believe they are extremely lucky to reside in Australia as citizens on Australia Day. Henceforth, according to one of the opposition team member’s intervention, Australia Day brings about a sense of unity and fraternity among the different tribes and cultures of the nation and helps in bridging the gap among all residents of the nation. It is also found that on the last eve of Australia Day, about 16,000 new Australian residents became citizens of the country and this trend has been continuing for several decades (Wainwright, 2017). So it is said by my position team members that Australia Day embarks an extremely important subjective mannerism regarding the nationalistic sentiments of the people of the country in general.
However, one of my team members also argued that the colonization of Australia took place under forceful activities by the English community. They have taken over the land of indigenous tribes and aborigines who are the original residents of Australia. The people of the English community treated the indigenous tribal people as their labourers and treated them very badly. Therefore, it does not seem logical to celebrate Australia Day on 26 January as it is the very day when the country has faced invasion from foreign intruders. I also believe that changing the date of celebration of Australia Day would radically provide an outlet for all Australians to rejoice and come together and break down the colonially embedded stigmas. I also have the view that the indigenous people are the custodians of the world’s oldest living culture and celebration of Australia Day on the day of their invasion would not make them ecstatic by any means. The development of a country can only take place if the sentiments of all the cultures are given due importance and every tribal amenities are given due respect.
The data is symbolized as the unethical treatment of the Australians First Nations people and the day is associated with the loss of Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal Australians who support them. Therefore, I think that the present date is not a happy and glorious day for Australia and creates trauma for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I think that the day is marked as the beginning of the discrimination and erosion of the traditional culture and languages. Besides, as per my viewpoint, the arrival and establishment of a British colony have been presented as illegal that affects the human rights of the traditional people. According to the survey of New Daily, 60.3% of Australians agree that the day needs to be shifted to another day and they mainly prefer 25th April that represents the landing of Australian troops at Gallipoli which is celebrated mainly by the young Australians (Kelly, 2020).
I have identified that the Indigenous people have been suffering from the events of the day of 1788 and the distribution rate of imprisonment of the Indigenous people has been increased. It has also been noticed by me that the day has ignored more than 60,000 years of pre-colonial history and multicultural migration of Australian people. As the contribution of the traditional people is high in building culture in Australia, I think that negligence for these people cannot create an honored history. Henceforth, according to me, Australia mainly celebrates dispossession and separation from 26th January 1788 without celebrating harmony, diversity, and acceptance.
It has been recently identified that the younger generation people of Australia are not interested in celebrating Australia day on 26th January and the rate has decreased from 78% to 55% in 2019 (Dahlstrom, 2020). The younger people think that this is offensive for Indigenous Australians and I fully support it. Besides, I also believe that this day does not motivate the Indigenous people, and celebration of day enhances the social isolation of Indigenous people. It reduces the speed of social inclusion of the traditional people to the Australian culture and the Indigenous child suffers more. The younger generation of Australia has started to influence the political and social expression to shift Australia Day to another date.
However, members of another team agree that Australia Day needs to be celebrated on the current date because it recognizes the history, and this date is also related to the foundation of New South Wales. The opinion of me and my team is stronger because the celebration of Australian day on 26th January becomes an empty symbolic gesture that opposes the human rights of Indigenous people. I agree with my team member that changing the date can enhance constitutional recognition and self-determination of Indigenous people that can help the Australian government to facilitate the positive results of “closing the gap” campaign. I think that changing the date can enhance cultural collaboration and respect for Indigenous people.
Ben Westcott, C. (2020). Why the debate around Australia Day gets more heated every year. Retrieved 31 May 2020, from https://edition.cnn.com/2019/01/25/australia/australia-day-morrison-citizenship-intl/index.html
Dahlstrom, F. (2020). Australia Day: Should We Change the Date? - Go To Court Lawyers. Retrieved 31 May 2020, from https://www.gotocourt.com.au/legal-news/australia-day-should-we-change-the-date/
Fozdar, F., Spittles, B., & Hartley, L. K. (2015). Australia Day, flags on cars and Australian nationalism. Journal of Sociology, 51(2), 317-336.
Kelly, C. (2020). Should Australia Day be moved from Janurary 26? The results are in. The New Daily. Retrieved 31 May 2020, from https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/2020/01/24/australia-day-debate-results/
Lipscombe, T. A., Dzidic, P. L., & Garvey, D. C. (2019). Coloniser control and the art of disremembering a “dark history”: Duality in Australia Day and Australian history. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology.Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/casp.2444
The Guardian. (2017). Melbourne's Yarra council votes unanimously to move Australia Day citizenship ceremonies. Retrieved 31 May 2020, from https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/aug/16/melbournes-yarra-council-votes-unanimously-to-move-australia-day-citizenship-ceremonies
Wainwright, S. (2017). Australia day-change the date. Green Left Weekly, (1122), 5.Retrieved from https://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=601601187239100;res=IELHSS
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