Opinion: Date debate creates division in Australia

Raelene HallMidwest Times
Crowds enjoy Australia Day in Perth, always a good thing to see, but many have themed products made in China.
Camera IconCrowds enjoy Australia Day in Perth, always a good thing to see, but many have themed products made in China. Credit: Lincoln Baker

Every year following New Year the same debate rages around the country. Should we change the date of Australia Day?

It causes great division among some, while others are not bothered one way or the other.

I’m afraid I fall into the latter group. It’s never been a particularly significant day for me and most years it is just another day on our outback station.

One year we were in Perth and went to the foreshore with friends to watch the fireworks. Nothing about it shouted “Australia Day” to me though.

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There were crowds out enjoying themselves, which is always a good thing to see, but I find it ironic the majority were carrying flags, wearing thongs or shirts, lying on beach towels, all of which would have been made in China and may end up in landfill once Australia Day is over.

Is the date of Australia Day really the most pressing issue we face in our country today?

Suicide rates are on the increase countrywide, drought is destroying many farming families’ lives and livelihoods, domestic violence and abuse occurs daily somewhere in our great country. Shouldn’t these issues be more important than one single day of the year?

In the debates I’ve witnessed there isn’t a common date that everyone can agree on so how do we, as a nation, come to an agreement?

Sure, we could have a referendum with a choice of dates, at a cost of millions of dollars, unless included in an election, and even then, campaigning for the various dates would be expensive. And, regardless of outcome, there would still be those who were happy and those who were not.

Perhaps the answer is to cancel Australia Day.

The date Australia Day is held on is not the issue for me. It’s the divisiveness of the debate, the priority it takes over issues of, in my opinion, greater importance.

At the end of the day, we are all lucky to be living in this wonderful country.

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