Australia Day's date: argument divides us

Rugby league great Johnathan Thurston thinks it's only a matter of time before the national day's date gets changed.

Speaking at a function before the announcement of Professor Michelle Yvonne Simmons as the Australian of the Year, Thurston believes once Australians are more informed about why the date is hurtful to indigenous people, change will happen.

"It's not just about the First Fleet, it's about the stealing of the land, the misplacement of the stolen generation and the injustices that were done over the years," Queensland's Australian of the Year said.

It's an opinion shared by swimming great Shane Gould, who's been appointed a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia in Friday's honours, and who calls indigenous elder Patsy Cameron a close friend.

"She continues to call it Invasion Day, and she doesn't celebrate Australia Day but she respects other people wanting to celebrate Australia," Gould said.

But gun control activist Walter Mikac, who lost his wife and daughters at the Port Arthur massacre, has also been appointed an AM, and says the discussion around the date is "political correctness gone mad".

"It's a day to celebrate Australia whether you're indigenous or not," he said.

Former senator Meg Lees says she'll be spending Australia Day watching the cricket at Adelaide Oval after being appointed an Officer (AO) of the Order of Australia, but recognises the date doesn't please all Australians.

"I don't think people can keep sweeping it under the carpet and hoping it will go away," she told AAP.

Other honours recipients were more sanguine about the controversy, with Melbourne neurosurgeon Jeffrey Rosenfeld saying a decision to change the date is one for the government and wider community.

"I'm very proud to receive the honour on Australia Day, whichever day that might be," he said.

Olympian and Tour Down Under race director Mike Turtur, appointed an AO, says he isn't in favour of altering the date.

"I acknowledge what's happened in the past, but I also think the day's been celebrated (on January 26) for I don't know how long - my feeling is, just leave it," Turtur said.

Back To Top
feedback