The government has had a big old sook about an ABC article referring to “Australia Day/Invasion Day 2021”, resulting in the national broadcaster completely removing “Invasion Day” from the headline.
The article, which originally had a pretty diplomatic headline on Sunday, listed a bunch of official Australia Day ceremonies plus heaps more events which literally had the words “Invasion Day” in their name.
It seemed like a pretty normal way to phrase the list.
The ABC article was about the various events around the country on Jan 26. To have referred to the protests as Australia Day events would have been inaccurate reporting. https://t.co/iapEHfN3YP
— Shaun Micallef (@shaunmicallef) January 24, 2021
However, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher called on the ABC to remove the words “Invasion Day” from its headline on Monday morning.
“The name of our national day is well understood and supported, and for the ABC to suggest otherwise – that in some way Invasion Day is interchangeable with Australia Day – is clearly wrong,” he said in a statement.
the ABC has changed its Invasion Day article
Left: a screenshot I took at 8.51am
Right: how it looks now (with “updated 1h ago”)
headline + intro changed
ABC confirms to me their policy “is to use the term Australia Day… We have changed a headline to reflect this” pic.twitter.com/XkW2OhbJ7v
— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) January 25, 2021
Meanwhile, conservative Queensland MP George Christensen went as far as to claim that “the ABC has declared Australia Day is ‘Invasion Day'” in a Facebook post.
“While the ABC’s charter say their role is to ‘contribute to a sense of national identity’, I’m not sure that styling the majority of Australians as ‘invaders’ is the kind of identity the charter was going for,” he wrote.
From a semantic perspective, it’s silly. It would make no sense to call the Invasion Day rally in Sydney, for example, an “Australia Day” event when it clearly isn’t.
On top of that, January 26 is literally the day the British invasion of the Australian continent began, leading to genocide and ongoing oppression, dispossession and violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
But here’s the thing: Nowhere did the ABC state that the two names are interchangeable. The news article was simply listing two different kinds of events that were taking place in cities around the country.
The new headline acknowledges still the tension but doesn’t actually use the phrase “Invasion Day”: “Australia Day is a contentious day for many. Here are the events being held on January 26.”
The ABC even clarified to The New Daily that its standard policy “is to use the term Australia Day, as it always has” but, “as the editorial advice states, other terms can be used when they are appropriate in certain contexts.”
“This does not mean they are used interchangeably,” a spokesperson said.
“We have changed a headline to avoid any reader confusion about this.”
The whole debacle goes to show that some people can’t even handle a simple statement of fact – calling an Invasion Day protest an Invasion Day protest – without dredging up the same, tired culture wars drivel.