Changing that date: the talk we need to have

‘Australia Day’ protest 2021 (photo Stewart Munro)

Every 26 January, an almost predictable occurrence in our ongoing national conversation, is the appropriateness of that date as our so called ‘national day’. Thats right: ‘Australia Day’.

We do know that on 26 January 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip, in command of a fleet of ships, raised the Union Flag and proclaimed British ‘sovereignty’ over the eastern half of the Australian continent. It was the commencement of colonial rule and the occupation of land by force of arms.

However, we also know that for our First Nations, January 26 is not a day of celebration. Instead, it is a day of mourning, of invasion and of survival in the face of oppression, genocide, cruelty and assimilation.

This fact begs the question. How can we truly have 26 January as our national day when it is a symbolic date of tyranny for others?

How can we truly call it our ‘national day’ when we indeed did not become a nation on 26 January 1788? (What former colonial possession celebrates the day it become a colony as their national day?).

Then, for some of our ancestors, 26 January was a date of forced imprisonment as a result of a harsh and brutal judicial system that punished the poor, whilst making others very wealthy.

Every year, the call to change the date of our ‘national day’ gets louder. Every year, more Australians are expressing their view that 26 January is not an appropriate date to be proud of, but a date steeped in colonialism that does not mean a day of freedom, but a day of repression.

Some Australians are now eager, out of respect to our First Nations communities, to swap the public holiday for another, recognising 26 January as a Day of Mourning, with nothing to celebrate, nothing to be proud of.

However, it is acknowledged that changing the date is but one step. But it is indeed a vital step in the long road to reconciliation with our First Nations people. We still have much more to do to recognise our past and walk together for our future.

We, as a nation, cannot be frightened to have a proper, respectful debate about our so called national day. Australians must confront the reality that 26 January significantly fails us as a modern nation. It is not a day of national unity, but a continuing symbol of imperialist domination, oppression and subjugation.

We need a day that all of us can celebrate.

Rod Beisel is secretary of Annerley Labor

Annerley Labor News – December 2022

Christmas Hamper Appeal finishes for another year

Annerley Labor has concluded another successful Christmas Hamper Appeal, helping people and families in need this festive season. Comprising a range of donated food items and a donation of $200, the Branch recently handed over its contribution to Micah Projects (pictured), which organises the appeal each year.

Based in West End, Micah Projects is a non-profit community-focussed organisation providing valuable support for people experiencing adversity due to poverty, homelessness, mental illness, domestic violence, disability, and discrimination due to age, gender or sexual orientation.

Support for Qld Police racism enquiry

Members have supported calls from the Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland for an independent enquiry into allegations of systemic racism within the Queensland Police Service.

Recent reports of racist and misogynist behaviour in the Queensland Police Service towards First Nations people, and people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities, have sparked concern within various multicultural communities across Queensland. It is also understood that many ALP members from CALD backgrounds have expressed their dismay at the silence from Queensland government in response to these reports.

The Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland have called for any investigation into the systemic racism to be ‘thorough and transparent in order to rebuild trust’. Some critics have argued that it is vital that systemic cultural change must be enacted within the police service to properly address the issue.

In support of the calls, Annerley Labor members have strongly condemned the reported behaviour and have called on the Commissioner for Police to promptly ‘sanction those who are found to have engaged in such behaviour’.

Members express solidarity with Iranian women

Annerley Labor has registered its support for the ‘Women, Life and Freedom’ movement in Iran, in its attempt to stop state sanctioned discrimination and violence against women in their country.

The movement, largely sparked by the tragic death of Mahsa Amini, seeks to free women of the restrictive practices currently implemented by the Iranian government.

In a resolution addressed to Foreign Minister, Penny Wong, Annerley Labor has condemned the repressive actions of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), whilst welcoming the continuation of the Australian government’s targeted financial sanctions.

However, members have also backed calls for the Australian government to introduce the same level of sanctions as imposed by Canada, the United States of America and the European Union on Iran and on any of its citizens who violate human rights.

Annerley Labor members welcomed statements made by the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister condemning the regime’s treatment of its own people and re-iterating that ‘Australia stands with Iranian women and girls in their struggle for equality and empowerment’.

Cross River Rail: impacted residents supported

Responding to growing concerns expressed by local residents impacted by the ongoing construction of the new Cross River Rail station at Dutton Park, Annerley Labor has called on the Queensland Transport Minister, Mark Bailey MP to support ‘the installation of an appropriate noise barrier, in consultation with local residents’.

As part of the Cross River Rail Project, Dutton Park station is being rebuilt to improve access and functionality and is expected to be completed by 2025. However, current construction is happening all hours during the day, bringing not only noise but bright lights at night, as well as large amounts of dust.

In its correspondence to the Transport Minister, Annerley Labor has also backed calls for an ‘immediate provision of material compensation’ for residents whose ‘quality of life is deleteriously affected by construction of the new station’.

Season’s Greetings

Annerley Labor would like to extend greetings to all its members and supporters during this festive season and wishes everyone a very happy, safe and healthy 2023.