Conservative Former MP Calls For The Date Of Australia Day To Change

Ian Macfarlane, a conservative former Liberal National Party MP, has come out in an editorial in The Australian calling for the date of Australia Day to be changed.

Though there’s obviously a huge push – largely from younger, progressive crowds – to move Australia’s national day away from a day associated with invasion, violence and genocide against Indigenous Australians, it is rare to hear that sentiment from the political establishment. Especially conservative Coalition MPs.
Macfarlane says in the editorial that he was driven to take this stance despite his earlier belief that the arguments came from ‘latte-drinking trendies’ after he considered it in regards to his own heritage:

Then I thought, how would my Scottish cousins feel if they had to celebrate United Kingdom day on the anniversary of the Vikings launching an amphibious attack on Arrochar, raping and pillaging, and producing Macfarlanes with blue eyes and blond hair?
How would my mother’s forebears, the Reids, feel if the same celebration were held on the anniversary of the Battle of Culloden, where the Highlanders where cut down by English grapeshot and then the survivors hunted down and, along with their women and children, murdered?

It was the moment I decided that as a conservative, Anglo-Celtic Australian, I want to play a part in the push to changing the date of Australia Day. I believe it is an important way to prevent a potential schism in Australia’s society and to remove a potential roadblock to reconciliation and a greater Australia.

Look, most people don’t need to see the inherent injustice in celebrating a violent colonisation with reference to the Vikings, but glad you got there in the end anyway, Ian.

He also acknowledges the argument from many Indigenous leaders that a mere change of the date will do little to address the continuing disadvantage and violence faced by the community.
I believe that all Australians celebrating our great country on a date not associated with past wrongs can only bring us closer.

That said, I acknowledge, as do many indigenous leaders, that this symbolic date change won’t stem the real disadvantage still suffered by many indigenous Australians. As a country we should look to the things that are working to close the gap for our indigenous brothers and sisters.

Macfarlane suggests March 1st, a date he says marked when “the first Commonwealth Government began taking control of many of the functions formerly exercised by the colonies” as an alternate date.

Of course, Macfarlane is still coming from an a conservative nationalist, patriotic angle – and many Indigenous Australians are uncomfortable with celebrating colonialism regardless of date. But it’s a change in tone regardless.
Read the full editorial HERE.
Source: The Australian.
Photo: Getty Images / Stefan Postles.