A political opportunist to his core, Bill Shorten clearly understands the political reality of changing Australia Day. For now, Australians largely support keeping the date, and Shorten has responded accordingly.
But there is enough reluctance in his recent comments, combined with a bizarre critique of Malcolm Turnbull, to conclude Shorten and Labor will support changing Australia Day sometime in the near future.
Should this occur, 2 of the 3 biggest political parties will support a change, and there is every chance Australia Day will go the same way as did gay marriage.
Unless we overcome our growing malaise of white guilt, and turn back the clocks on Australian national identity and pride, a determined, aggressive Left will claim yet another cultural victory.
It should not be controversial to state that although Aboriginals maintain a right to self determination, culture and heritage, Europeans who founded our great nation from virtually nothing, deserve a similar right.
This right should be eternally realised through national celebration on the 26th of January, marking the start of modern Australia.
Not through some changed date to appease Indigenous sensibilities beyond the scope of our extraordinary efforts to date (Racial Discrimination Act, Native Title, Welcome to Country ceremonies, smoking ceremonies, Sorry Day and ‘Close The Gap’ which includes extravagant spending on Aboriginal welfare, healthcare, and education).
The Australian, by Rachel Baxendale, January 18, 2018:
Bill Shorten has fallen short of defending the date of Australia Day, following a stinging attack by Malcolm Turnbull, who accused the Opposition Leader of failing to support holding the nation’s day on January 26.
Amid growing pressure from the Coalition and the Greens, and western Sydney Labor MPs endorsing Australia Day celebrations next week, Mr Shorten last night attacked Mr Turnbull and Greens leader Richard Di Natale, accusing them of “politicising” the issue.
“Things are getting pretty desperate for Turnbull when he’s lining up alongside the Greens to politicise Australia Day,” a spokesman for Mr Shorten said.
“Australia Day isn’t Malcolm Turnbull’s private property — it belongs to the people of Australia. The last thing people want is an arrogant, out-of-touch politician crawling all over their public holidays.”
The Prime Minister had earlier said Mr Shorten’s absence during this week’s debate over whether Australia Day should be moved to another date was a “test of leadership”.
Mr Turnbull suggested Mr Shorten was under pressure from the powerful Labor left faction, which has agitated for a separate day to celebrate indigenous people. “He says he supports Australia Day, he says that he supports Australia Day on January 26, well when is he going to demonstrate that? When is he going to ensure his party backs him on this issue?” he said.
“I’d like to see Bill Shorten speaking as proudly and as passionately in defence of Australia Day as I am, that would be a good unity ticket for him to join.”
Mr Shorten’s office has this week pointed to the Labor leader’s past statements supporting the current date of Australia Day, arguing he did not need to issue a new statement as his position had not changed.
Mr Shorten will speak at the Brimbank Council citizenship ceremony on Australia Day, while Mr Turnbull will take part in official events in Canberra.
Labor frontbencher Linda Burney, an indigenous woman, yesterday called for a separate day to celebrate Aboriginal culture and suggested it could be held on the Queen’s Birthday public holiday.
Macarthur MP Mike Freelander, who won back the western Sydney seat of Macarthur for Labor last year, labelled calls to change the date as “divisive”.
“I see no need to change the day and I think it is great that we have a day where we can all celebrate living in the best country in the world,” Dr Freelander said.
“But I do also acknowledge that many indigenous people, not all but many, feel disconcerted by the fact that this is a celebration of a day where the British invaded Australia and took their land. But having said that, I do not see any great desire from the vast majority of Australians at this stage to change the date.”
Dr Freelander said he would go to two citizenship ceremonies in his electorate as well as community barbecues.
Opposition Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen, who represents the western Sydney seat of McMahon, said January 26 was the right date for Australia Day.
“I do not support changing the date of Australia Day,” Mr Bowen said.
“Australia Day is an appropriate day to reflect on our collective achievements as a nation.”
But Mr Bowen backed a call by Ms Burney to have a separate day to celebrate indigenous culture and reflect on its history.
Mr Bowen will join the Cumberland Council’s celebrations and then have a barbecue at his family home.
Anne Stanley, the Labor MP for the western Sydney electorate of Werriwa, said the issue of reconciliation was “bigger than the date of Australia Day”.
“The ninth Closing the Gap report showed we are only on track to meet one of the seven targets,” she said.
“The Uluru Statement offered an important dialogue for a way forward on reconciliation, but Malcolm Turnbull immediately cut that down.”