Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called for a special day to be set aside to recognise indigenous Australians, but doesn’t want it to replace Australia Day.
Mr Morrison believes Australia Day should continue to be celebrated on January 26, but says a separate day should be created to acknowledge 60,000 years of indigenous history.
“I also believe we need to honour and acknowledge in our national calendar our indigenous peoples,” he told The Daily Telegraph.
The prime minister on Monday hit out at a NSW council for deciding to move its official Australia Day ceremony to January 25.
Byron Shire Council will still hold some council events on the national holiday.
Mr Morrison wrote on Facebook that the “modern Australian nation” began on January 26, 1788 and that was the day to reflect on what the nation had accomplished, become, and still had to achieve.
“Indulgent self-loathing doesn’t make Australia stronger,” Mr Morrison said.
“Being honest about the past does.”
Byron Mayor Simon Richardson said the celebrations on January 26 caused pain in a section of the community and questioned whether the values of a fair go and mateship were being reflected.
“Is it true mateship to willingly, willfully and continually to celebrate what rightfully is great to be an Australian on a day that some Australians are pained by?” the Greens mayor told 3AW on Monday.
He said the prime minister’s response was understandable but he found the remark about “modern Australia” interesting.
“I thought we were actually celebrating Australia Day, not ‘modern’ Australia Day,” he said.
The prime minister has since cancelled Byron Shire Council’s authority to conduct citizenship ceremonies, The Daily Telegraph reports.