Olympic MP Zali Steggall calls for a minute’s silence on Australia Day to acknowledge indigenous lives lost since colonization – but critics say Move is painting Aboriginal people as ‘helpless victims’
- Former Olympian Zali Steggall calls for a minute of silence on Australia Day
- The Warringah MP She says the gesture would be a step towards a cure
- She said the day “ stirs up a range of emotions in many in our community ”
Should a minute’s silence be observed on Australia Day to recognize its bleak significance to Indigenous Australians?
Federal member of Warringah and Winter Olympian Zali Steggall has written to mayors in her Sydney constituency asking if they are doing just that.
Australia Day marks the anniversary of the arrival of the first fleet of British ships at Port Jackson in 1788.
Federal member for Warringah and Winter Olympian Zali Steggall has written to mayors in her constituency in Sydney
Pictured: Protesters seen at the Invasion Day rally in Brisbane, January 26, 2020
“January 26 evokes a range of emotions in many in our community,” said Ms. Steggall.
“While it marks the beginning of the European colonization of this country, it also represents the beginning of violence, powerlessness and displacement of our indigenous communities that have caused grief, discrimination and deprivation for generations.”
She says the gesture would be a powerful step toward healing.
“It is only right that we recognize everything that this day represents and build commemoration into our ceremonies to recognize the price paid by the first Australians.”
People: People participating in the Australia Day celebration on the roof of a house in Newcastle
Ms. Steggall, along with the mayors of the councils of North Sydney, Mosman and Northern Beaches, has written a letter to the Australian Local Government Association.
But Alice Springs councilor and Warlpiri wife Jacinta Price convicted Ms. Steggall for “painting Indigenous Australians as helpless victims.”
“Zali needs to learn a little more about our country’s history, rather than using superficial, PC-awakened ways to deal with these particular issues,” she told Jim Wilson about 2 GB.
She said Australia Day is a time for unity with people who have traveled the world to become Australian.
Her pressure comes when the organizers of Sydney’s annual ‘Invasion Day’ march beg the police to allow a Covid-safe version of the event to go ahead.
Last week, Scott Morrison’s government warned city councils not to use the Covid as an excuse to cancel Australia Day celebrations to appease Invasion Day activists who want to change the date.
Municipalities are required to hold citizenship ceremonies on January 26, and their citizenship privileges may be revoked by the government if they fail to abide by the rules.
In the photo: Protesters cross the Victoria Bridge during the Invasion Day rally in Brisbane
While most councils still hold citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day, some have announced they have canceled out of solidarity with the indigenous people or the Covid pandemic.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said local councils should not divide Australians by the disputed date after a difficult year marred by the pandemic.
“For any council that wants to play politically with the Australia Day citizenship ceremonies, our message is simple: don’t,” Mr. Hawke told The Australian.
‘Australians need this kind of negative bickering less than ever in this difficult time.
“We know that the vast majority of councils across the country will do the right thing in determining whether to hold online or physical citizenship ceremonies.”
Pictured: Two women pose for a photo ahead of Australia Day celebrations on Day Thirteen of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne
Yarra and Darebin City Councils in Melbourne’s inner city will not hold citizenship ceremonies on January 26.
The two councils voted to no longer refer to January 26 as Australia Day in 2017, resulting in the removal of their citizenship privileges.
The councils of Yarra and Darebin will also hold indigenous commemorative events in lieu of Australia Day events.
According to a recent survey of 1,038 people by the Institute of Public Affairs think tank, two-thirds believed Australia Day should be celebrated on January 26.
Only 11 percent were in favor of changing the date.
About 72 percent of people interviewed thought the day was an authentic way for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to celebrate being Australian.