Australia Day Events Are Already Being Axed ‘Cos Of COVID, So Why Not Just Change The Date?

australia day cancelled covid

Local councils across the country are already cancelling their Australia Day events as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, so what a great excuse to change the bloody date.

Despite the National Australia Day Council offering $20,000 grants to help cover the costs of COVID-safe precautions, many councils have decided to just axe the celebrations altogether.

So far, Canterbury Bankstown, Liverpool, The Hills, North Sydney and Inner West councils have scrapped their celebrations, which were already controversial before the pandemic changed life as we know it.

But while many on social media are rejoicing the fact that they won’t have to put up with celebrations in their local areas on January 26th, Cumberland City mayor Steve Christou reckons the move is “un-Australian.”

“I think the decision taken by some councils to cancel their Australia Day events is completely unacceptable and frankly un-Australian, particularly if the events can be hosted in a COVID-safe manner,” he said.

Similarly, Federal Liberal MP Craig Kelly claimed that using COVID as a reason to cancel events on January 26 felt like “a bit of a smokescreen”, noting that “they’d perhaps like to see Australia Day cancelled altogether.”

Oh, and of course Sky News host Paul Murray had to chime in about how the “cover of COVID” is being used to “cancel Australia Day.”

And honestly, they’re *so* close to hitting the nail on the head here. Like, *so* bloody close. Only, Change The Date activists aren’t trying to strip away anyone’s right to a day off, some beers and a celebration of our country, they just want to move it to a day that isn’t wildly offensive to a huge portion of the population.

After years of campaigning to change the date to one that ALL Australians can enjoy together, 2021 feels like the perfect year to actually do it. Why cancel the events (which will undoubtedly upset those who still choose to celebrate on January 26) when we can just postpone the whole day until later in the year, preferably on a date that isn’t incredibly traumatic for Indigenous Australians?

Aussies have already flocked to social media to express their feelings about the cancelled events, calling it the “silver lining” to COVID-19.

Meanwhile, others pointed out that a huge portion of Australians just use January 26th as an excuse to get shitfaced. So really, if it’s January 26 or January 10, it really doesn’t make that much of a difference, does it?

Obviously, there were also a tonne of offensive and racist responses to the cancellations, and the Change The Date campaign in general. But in the interest of not further spreading hate speech, we’re not going to include them here.

There are so many less offensive days to choose, from May 8 (Maate), or even May 9 (the first sitting of Federal Parliament). Or maybe we put it on the third Friday of January, to guarantee a long weekend every year (like Crystal Andrews suggests here). So many days! None of which mark the start of colonisation, and all of the horrors that went along with it.