Across most of Australia the second Monday in June is currently marked by a public holiday to celebrate the official birthday of Queen Elizabeth II, but that could be set to change if Labor are victorious at the next election.
The public holiday, this year held on June 11, honours the monarch’s official state birthday, rather than her real birth date, and is currently celebrated nationwide with the exception of Queensland and Western Australia.
Opposition leader for New South Wales, Luke Foley announced on Monday that the Labor party will replace the Queen’s Birthday holiday with a day celebrating”60,000 years of Indigenous history” if they get into power in the state.
Mr Foley said the change would be “another step in the process of reconciliation”, saying: “A NSW Labor Government will honour the oldest continuing civilisation on the planet, on this day every year. With a public holiday that will celebrate indigenous history & culture & acknowledge the special place the First Peoples occupy in our nation #reconciliation.’
He told the Sydney Morning Herald that the day would be “better used to acknowledge the First Peoples” as the date “isn’t Her Majesty’s real birthday”.
A @NSWLabor Government will honour the oldest continuing civilisation on the planet, on this day every year.
— Luke Foley (@Luke_FoleyNSW) June 11, 2018
Mr Foley went on to say that the change would most likely not be implemented until the Queen’s reign had ended, and confirmed that the community would be consulted before the potential new holiday was formalised.
The announcement on Monday was met with mixed reactions online, however, and several people responded to a post shared by Mr Foley to either pledge their support or slam the suggestion of change.
One user wrote: “A good initiative Mr. Foley. Don’t wait till her reign ends. Be proactive not reactive.”
Another said: “I support Indigenous recognition, however I do not support removing the Queen’s Birthday public holiday. Perhaps an additional day to celebrate indigenous Australians.”
The Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, David Harris, also backed the proposal, and told the Sydney Morning Herald: “It’s important for us to build on the existing relationship with the NSW Aboriginal community to empower them to achieve lasting generational change.”
In addition to the proposed public holiday change, Mr Foley also added that under a Labor government in New South Wales, on that day, and every other day, the Aboriginal flag would also fly on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, as “a symbol of respect and pride for the First Peoples”.