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Australia Day on January 26 just needs a makeover

Australia Day

Australia Day needs a makeover not a new date.

Australia Day is more at risk of becoming irrelevant due to lack of interest than it is of being moved to another date to appease a couple of critics.

Despite what you hear from some quarters, there is no move to change the date from January 26.

Yes, a couple of councils have cancelled Australia Day celebrations on January 26 and a radio station changed its traditional programming for that day for 2018.

But at this stage nobody is officially even talking about finding a new date for Australia Day.

Not that this is anything new – for years there have been people calling for January 1 to be our national day and January 26 renamed.

On January 1, 1901, Australia became an independent nation when the British Parliament passed legislation allowing the six Australian colonies to govern in their own right as part of the Commonwealth of Australia.

The Commonwealth of Australia was established as a constitutional monarchy from that day.

And of course 117 years later and we are still a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as our head of state and the Governor-General her representative in Canberra.

The republic is another big talking point in the Lucky Country, but along with our national day it’s just one of several contentious issues bubbling away as part of the national conversation.

Who knows, we may end up with a string of postal votes to decide one way or the other in the next few years.

As for Australia Day on January 26, it is really ridiculous to contemplate changing it.

Australia Day

Australia Day

The fact is that on January 26, 1788 the First Fleet landed in Port Jackson.

Politics aside, in a little over 200 years modern Australia has become the envy of the world.

This huge continent is now a big player on the world stage despite a relatively small population of almost 25 million people.

Our cities are among the most beautiful in the world, as are our beaches and native bushland.

Millions of tourists come to Australia every year and most of them would love to live here in the world’s greatest multicultural country in history.

This is what Australia Day is about.

It’s about celebrating local communities where we all chip in.

And it’s why Australia Day needs a little bit of a makeover to ensure we keep it relevant for future generations.

For years it’s been a challenge to elicit nominations for local Australia Day awards, for example.

And some years we have scratched our heads when we heard who had been anointed Australian of the Year.

Perhaps there should be more emphasis on citizenship ceremonies rather than awards on January 26; indeed let’s consider making citizenship ceremonies the main focus of the day – after all new people have been coming to Australia non stop since January 26, 1788.

Local councils try really hard to keep their Australia Day relevant.

But councils are big organisations and are slow to embrace change of any kind.

However the time has come to swiftly review what happens on January 26 and improve where necessary.

If the councils don’t act quickly, then the threat to Australia Day on January 26 may become real.

And nobody wants that to happen.

 

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