Federal Govt Bans Freo From Moving Oz Day Ceremony To More Inclusive Date

Nothing can ever repair the damage that was done to Indigenous Australia when Europeans saw what was an already occupied island nation and decided to invade and colonise it. Nothing can even come close. All we can do is attempt to address inequalities caused and perpetuated by white Australia and make some effort to recognise that we were not the original owners of the land and we did not take it peacefully.

Gestures that might seem tokenistic or pointless can be wildly important – the government officially apologising for the stolen generations was an extremely powerful move that went against Australia’s former doctrine of refusing to acknowledge that it had done any wrong. Did it actually fix anything? No. But it was a step towards changing the prevailing attitude that the horrible things this country did in its past don’t matter, an attitude that at its heart is built on the idea that Aboriginal lives really don’t matter.
That’s the logic behind changing the date of Australia Day. To have someone invade your country, kill your ancestors, steal their children and actively try to destroy your culture – and then, centuries later, have those invaders claim that everyone should celebrate the anniversary of that invasion, that it’s a day for all people, is abso-fucking-lutely ridiculous. It’s genuinely insane.
But, of course, in this country, doing something minimally difficult to address something so serious would just be too hard. And even attempts by other people to circumvent the date and be a bit more culturally sensitive on their own initiative are too much, if we’re to believe the federal government’s response to Fremantle‘s decision to move the date of their citizenship ceremony.
Last month Freo announced they’d be moving their Australia Day celebrations back by two days, to a date not hugely insensitive to Indigenous Australians, and the government has responded with a very curt “No“.
Assistant Immigration Minister Alex Hawke told ABC radio they couldn’t let the ceremony go ahead: 
“Citizenship has got to be apolitical, non-commercial, bipartisan and secular.

“It’s really important … we’ve got hundreds of councils administering this around the country … that they don’t get the idea they can use citizenship as a political football.”
It almost seems like officially endorsing a day that implicitly celebrates a perceived supremacy of white culture over Indigenous culture is in itself an inherently political act… but that’s none of my business.
Photo: Ashley Feder / Getty.