Australia Day marked by bitter debates | Ralph Lauren

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Australians will mark the country’s national holiday on Tuesday with celebrations and protests around the country.

Thousands are expected to march in capital cities to advocate abolishing Australia Day and demand justice for First Nations people.

In Melbourne, an Invasion Day rally will go ahead despite the city’s annual Australia Day parade being cancelled.

In Sydney, the NSW Police Minister has warned the thousands of people planning to march in protest that they face fines or imprisonment for violating COVID-19 public health orders.

Conservative lobby group Advance Australia said it planned to arrange for the words “Aus Day” to be written in the sky above Sydney on Tuesday, to counter the Invasion Day rally.”

The country has again been roiled by the annual debate about whether Australia Day’s date should be changed or the name changed to Invasion Day.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison opposes changing the day, saying it is “all about acknowledging how far we’ve come”.

A poll published on Monday suggests the majority of Australians do not want to change the date of Australia Day, with Mr Morrison saying he was not surprised by the results.

Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt, meanwhile, acknowledged January 26 was a painful date for many Australians, but argued the day was an opportunity to reflect on the nation’s story of reconciliation.

Mr Morrison came under fire last week for saying that January 26, 1788 “wasn’t a particularly flash day” for those sailing into Sydney either.

Independent federal MP Zali Steggall is proposing the day be marked with a minute’s silence “to pay … respects and acknowledge the loss and sorrow felt, and the price paid.”

Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe argues the Aboriginal flag should be flown at half mast, to recognise January 26 as a day of mourning.

The national broadcaster was criticised on Monday for using the terminology “Invasion Day” in an online article. Cricket Australia’s decision to drop references to “Australia Day” while promoting Big Bash League games also drew debate, with politicians and commentators weighing in.

Controversy also attended the Australia Day honours list, with tennis player Margaret Court revealed by a journalist last week as a recipient of the top honour, a Companion of the Order of Australia.

A Canberra doctor handed back her Order of Australia in disgust at the choice, which has been criticised because of Ms Court’s homophobic views.

Mr Morrison announced the Australian of the Year recipients in a ceremony on Monday evening.

The new Australian of the Year is 26-year-old sexual assault survivor advocate Grace Tame. The Tasmanian woman has fought for victims to be able to identify themselves and tell their stories, through the ‘Let Her Speak’ campaign.

Adelaide student and social entrepreneur Isobel Marshall is Young Australian of the Year, Aboriginal elder, activist and teacher Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann is Senior Australian of the Year, and Kenyan refugee Rosemary Kariuki is Australia’s Local Hero for 2021.


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