It has been less than 24 hours since Prime Minister Scott Morrison made his position clear on Australia Day, slamming one New South Wales council’s decision to celebrate the national holiday a day earlier.
Describing the plan as “self-indulgent loathing”, Morrison took umbrage with Byron Shire Council’s announcement that they would move Australia day forward in 2019 in acknowledgement of the belief that January 26 marks “the day the cultural decimation and denigration of the First Australians began”.
However the PM has now suggested the introduction of a new public holiday which would “honour and acknowledge our indigenous peoples” as a way of forging stronger ties between all Australians.
“Such scars should not provide an invitation for self-loathing, but a reminder of what we have learned and how we have become a better nation.”
The 30th prime minister of Australia went on to say that while he understands why some people believe we should cease to celebrate Australia Day on January 26, he does not agree, despite the argument coming from “a place of deep respect for indigenous Australians.
He added: “In recent years, some have said we should walk away from Australia Day on January 26. I understand this, but respectfully disagree.
“I also believe we need to honour and acknowledge in our national calendar our indigenous peoples. Rather than further conflict and argument, this is how I believe we can work together to bring and keep Australians together.”
On Monday, the PM slammed Byron Shire Council’s decision and said Australia Day is a chance to celebrate the country’s achievements, as well as failures, and that he plans to do that in a “sensitive, respectful and proud” manner.
“Indulgent self-loathing does not make Australia stronger,” he said. “Being honest about the past does – our achievements and our failings.
“We should not rewrite our history. Our modern Australian nation began on January 26, 1788. That is the day to reflect on what we’ve accomplished, what we’ve become and what we still have to achieve. We can do this sensitively, respectfully, proudly and, most importantly, together. That’s my plan.”