Australia Day date change not a priority in Walcha

No resident has expressed any Australia Day concerns to him, Walcha mayor Eric Noakes said.

No resident has expressed any Australia Day concerns to him, Walcha mayor Eric Noakes said.

The issue of what we’re actually celebrating on Australia Day regularly comes up at this time of year, but now there appears to be some organised impetus to moving the national celebration away from January 26 to a date more inclusive of the country’s population and less hurtful to indigenous people.

A recent survey by Research Now revealed that only 62 per cent of people know what anniversary we’re celebrating on January 26, and that 56 per cent of respondents wouldn’t mind if the date was changed anyway.

Some believe January 26 should instead mark the worthy maritime achievement of the First Fleet arriving in Botany Bay after its 252 day journey relatively intact, planting a flag to establish an antipodean penal colony. Instead, for instance, having January 1 as the country’s national day and celebrating Sir Henry Parkes’ success in bringing together disparate colonies into one federation of states in 1901 would seem a fitting analogy.

Greens leader Richard Di Natales has stated that moving Australia Day from January 26 would be one of his party's top priorities in 2018, and Yarra Council has infamously decided to not refer to January 26 activities as Australia Day activities.

Moving the argument inland, however, to historically more conservative climes may see it hard to gain traction.

Walcha mayor  Eric Noakes said the Australia Day debate is not something that’s high on Walcha Council’s agenda.

“Council has not discussed the proposition of changing the day on which Walcha celebrates Australia Day,” Cr Noakes said.

“I believe that we would not envisage this unless the Federal Government, who designates these public holidays, changed the day nationally. 

“At no stage of my council term has any resident broached the subject with me, so I conclude that they are happy with the current situation.”