PAUL MURRAY: Leave Australia Day alone

19th August 2017 8:40 AM
Let's leave Australia Day alone, says Paul Murray Let's leave Australia Day alone, says Paul Murray Comstock

Enough with the local councils trying to change Australia Day.

Yarra City Council, in a very lefty part of Melbourne, voted to stop marking the day because they think it's a day of sadness for the Indigenous community.

They claimed the locals wanted it, but didn't try that hard to really find out what they thought.

The council -- made up of four Greens, two Labor, some Independents and, believe it or not, someone from the Socialist Party -- only asked 300 of their 81,000 residents about the decision before they made it.

None of them are Aboriginal, and we should note, none have offered up their spots to be replaced by local Indigenous leaders.

They went for cheap symbolism, a stunt that doesn't give local Aboriginals any more power in their city.

The irony of using a system of government that only came with settlement since 1788 shouldn't be lost on us.

If Australia Day was ever an insensitive occasion, it's not that any more.

Australia day 

Photo Peter Holt / Daily Mercury
Australia day Photo Peter Holt / Daily Mercury Peter Holt

Every council in the country goes out of its way to recognise the peoples of the past while welcoming thousands more who become citizens on that day.

This is the true and new focus of Australia Day.

There isn't a child who for a couple of generations hasn't been taught about the substantial sins of our past.

But what's the point in endlessly trying to atone for them?

We need to find a new national day, separate from Australia Day, to look at the positive and ongoing role for Indigenous Australia.

We should make much more of the heroes of our Indigenous community who should seek to inspire a new generation.

Paul Murray hosts the TV series Paul Murray Live on Sky News.
Paul Murray hosts the TV series Paul Murray Live on Sky News. Robert Edwards

There are plenty of good examples, but I think we should start with something like Mabo Day.

This is a day where we should celebrate and remember that one man used the white man's law to overturn 'Terra Nullius', so recognising the culture and people who had this land for thousands of years.

We could celebrate the many and ongoing achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders, while not ignoring our collective past.

A completed image of an Indigenous Soldier.
A completed image of an Indigenous Soldier. contributed

An endless debate about the past only seeks to limit our future.

I'm always struck by the fact this Australia Day debate never happens in the NT.

You'd think that would be the place where it happens every year.

But it doesn't because they know there are urgent local and current issues, such as horrific domestic violence in Indigenous communities, that need to be dealt with now.

In the past three years there were 75,000 victims of family violence in the NT and the population is only 244,000 people.

If only we spent half of the ink we waste debating symbolism to fixing this horrific national shame.

Thankfully there are people like Alice Springs councillor Jacinta Nampijinpa Price who are focused on fighting this and my colleague at Sky News in Darwin, Matt Cunningham, who is committed to telling the real stories about it.

Symbolism is just that; action is what changes lives and our country for the better.

**Joining Paul on Paul Murray Live program this Monday on Sky News are Graham Richardson, Ross Cameron and Janine Perrett.