Aboriginal flag
Aboriginal flag Paul Donaldson BUN040716FLAG7

Change the date? Councillors have their say on Australia Day

EVERY year Australia Day has the same date. Should we change it because it causes offence to some of Australia's indigenous people?

With the debate about whether they should celebrate on another day raging in many councils, Clarence Valley councillors have differing views.


Clarence Valley councillor Richie Williamson
Clarence Valley councillor Richie Williamson Tim Howard

Cr Richie Williamson said he believed Australia Day was a day of reflection about the nation's past.

"To look forward to the bright future Australia has, we must acknowledge the wrongs and shortcomings of the past," he said. "It's also a day to be thankful for a strong and robust democracy, one that allows debates like this to even happen, an inclusive and welcoming nation."

His opposition to a date change stems from the inability to change history.

"The campaign to change the date is nothing more than an annual Greens political stunt," he said.


Cr Greg Clancy
Cr Greg Clancy Adam Hourigan

But for Greens councillor Greg Clancy, it's about recognising and supporting what the first nation people want.

"I fully support the change-the-date campaign as I believe most Aboriginal groups and individuals support the change," he said.

"I sat down with Yaegl elders recently and the consensus of those present was that they wanted the date changed.

"The recognition of Australians who have made a positive contribution to the country or their local area is worthwhile but I do not like the over-nationalistic side which smacks of racism and divisiveness that can come out on Australia Day."


Cr Debrah Novak
Cr Debrah Novak Adam Hourigan

Cr Debrah Novak suggested a new date for Australia Day could be the day Australia signs a bill of human rights or actions the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

"It would clearly give all Australians something to celebrate as a major achievement as a nation and would demonstrate to other countries we have come of age," she said.


Councillor Karen Toms at the Grafton Council Chambers.
Councillor Karen Toms at the Grafton Council Chambers. Caitlan Charles

Karen Toms said she felt we should be having more important conversations.

"What happened to the indigenous people in the past was terrible. I would like to see us put the past behind us, never forget the atrocities but work towards positive ways of changing the lives of all Australians who are disadvantaged," she said.

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