January 26

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has made a disingenuous pitch for “unity” and “honesty” in response to Byron Bay Council’s decision on September 20 not to celebrate Australia Day, in deference to the hurt it engenders to Indigenous peoples.

The Hobart City Council has officially joined the campaign to change the date of Australia Day.

It will also provide support for the annual Invasion Day march, organised by the Indigenous community, and back councillors who take part.

On October 23, the council passed a four-point motion seven votes to two.

It also called on other local governments to lobby the federal government to move Australia Day from January 26.

But it will not stop holding its citizenship ceremonies and celebrations on Australia Day.

Moreland City Council took a big step forward on September 13 when it voted to drop all references to January 26 as Australia Day out of respect for Aboriginal people. But it stopped short of cancelling its official Australia Day citizenship ceremony.

When Fremantle councillors voted in August last year to end the Australia Day fireworks display that it had been running for the past eight years, I fully expected a conservative backlash. But even I was surprised to see the decision featured in news bulletins for months on end.

On one level the whole thing is bizarre. Local governments are not obliged to do anything special on January 26 and most of them don't.

What drove the conservative media and Coalition politicians into a frenzy was the council's reason for doing dropping the fireworks display.

Early last year, an academic debate over Invasion Day erupted at the University of NSW. Apparently, some well credentialed people are offended that the term “invasion” is used to describe January 26.

I would be quite happy not to have to use that term. Stop and think for a few minutes: that would mean altering history or going back in time and ensuring the invasion of this country, now called Australia, never happened. 

The Only Democracy In the Middle East (TM) held elections on January 22, which is what all good democracies do — even if not all those actually governed by the Israeli Knesset got to vote.

Those in Gaza, which depends on the Israeli government elected in the poll to decide such things as which basic goods are let in to the besieged territory and whether or not they will be bombed on any given day, didn't get to cast a ballot. But in the West Bank, you'll be pleased to hear it is more mixed.

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