The head of Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council has voiced his disappointment that some of our most senior politicians are opposed to changing the date of Australia Day.
It comes as the Greens lead the charge to move the day of national celebration away from January 26.
So far, Malcolm Turnbull, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Nationals Leader and Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten have all voiced their support for the status quo.
Darkinjung CEO Sean Gordon quit the Liberal Party last year, following the Turnbull Government's rejection of the Uluru Statement, which sought to set up an Indigenous representative body, among other measures aiming to give First Nations people greater self-determination.
“Malcolm Turnbull failed to lead for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by rejecting the statement,” Mr Gordon told 2GO.
“Now he comes out and says we should all come together and celebrate this day which just blatantly tells me Turnbull is disconnected from the issues that impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“He just doesn’t consider our voice or our position at all.”
Push for greater education about January 26
Mr Gordon says it's not a day of celebration for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as the date which marks the First Fleet’s arrival disregards 65,000 years of culture before European colonisation.
“We can bury our head in the sand and ignore the atrocities that took place against Aboriginal people from 1788 onwards, but it’s not going to resolve where we are,” Mr Gordon said.
“Policies were put in place against these people to continue to oppress them but we continue to celebrate this day that Aboriginal people just don’t celebrate.”
He added he’d like to see greater education around what it is we’re effectively celebrating as a nation and “that whatever [replacement] date we come up with is inclusive of all Australians”.
Australia Day on the Coast
Darkinjung LALC will continue to lobby Central Coast Council to make a change in the near future, after moves by a handful of local governments in other states to reject the current public holiday.
Preparations for this year’s commemorations are well underway on the Coast, with council yesterday announcing country musician and producer Rod McCormack will be the event’s ambassador in 2018.
“We’re not calling for a boycott, we’ll allow the new council to settle in,” Mr Gordon reflects.
“The 15 councillors are dealing with a large range of issues and representing more than 300,000 people on the Central Coast.”
Mr Gordon says the LALC wrote to council in November to canvass the idea and there’s no expectation 2018’s events will be canned.
“I’ve since met with Mayor, Jane Smith to talk about a large range of issues [with changing the date] being one of them,” he notes.
“There are a number of things Darkinjung is working with council on and this is not our number one priority.”