High Court rules Indigenous Australians cannot be deported
High Court rules Indigenous Australians cannot be deported

MP calls for minute silence on Australia Day

Australia Day has become the most controversial date in the calendar, polarising those who want to celebrate the arrival of the First Fleet on these shores and those who say it sparked an era of untold suffering for First Nation people.

Now Zali Steggall, Warringah MP, has called for councils across Australia and in her electorate to include a one minute's silence on January 26, in recognition of indigenous Australian lives that have been lost since the first Europeans arrived.

"There should be a formal recognition of the loss, hurt and sorrow felt by our indigenous community on January 26," Ms Steggall said.

Ms Steggall has written to the Australian Local Government Association and the three mayors of North Sydney, Mosman and Northern Beaches Councils asking them to consider including the one minute's silence as part of their Acknowledgement of Country at the ceremony.

Zali Steggall at her North Balgowlah home. Picture: John Appleyard
Zali Steggall at her North Balgowlah home. Picture: John Appleyard

"Councils provide an important leadership role in commemorating this day by hosting numerous formal and informal ceremonies and activities for their communities," she said.

"However, January 26 provokes a range of emotions for many within our community.

"While it marks the commencement of European colonisation of this land, it also represents the commencement of violence, disempowerment and displacement of our indigenous communities that has created sorrow, discrimination and hardship that has lasted for generations.

"It is only right that we acknowledge all that this day represents and build remembrance into our ceremonies to recognise the price that has been paid by First Australians.

"A ceremonial minute's silence could be a powerful step in the healing journey."

Ms Steggall will attend the Mosman Council ceremony on January 26 where she will welcome new citizens to Warringah.

In recent years an increasing number of people from all backgrounds have called for Australia Day celebrations to be held on another day out of respect to First Nation people, with many now referring to January 26, as 'Invasion Day'.

Neil Evers, of Newport, and a proud member of the Garigal people, said he would support a one minute silence if it was "appropriate" and if it came from a genuine place, but it was no use if it was "done out of tokenism".

"You hear people do the acknowledgement of country and it is just a sentence to them," Mr Evers, from the Aboriginal Support Group - Manly, Warringah, Pittwater, said.

"The hard part is knowing whether they are doing it with meaning.

"At the same time, I don't want people going on one knee with a fist in the air."

Mr Evers said following the arrival of the First Fleet, Aboriginal people have been massacred and their land taken.

He said the suffering has continued and there are still Aboriginal people alive that went through the Stolen Generation.

The local Aboriginal Support Group is organising a bike ride from Manly to Church Point on January 25, where there will be indigenous music and dance in celebration of their culture.

Meanwhile, others will be protesting in the city.

This week Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres urged protesters planning an 'Invasion Day' rally at 9am in the Domain - it's Aboriginal name is Djarrbarrgalli - to adhere to regulations and follow the ministerial health orders which restricts protests to 500 people.

"We're encouraging people to celebrate Australia Day in a COVID safe way, we always recognise the opportunity for Australia to be a nation that celebrates free speech but we ask you to follow the public health orders that are in place, respect that people are celebrating a fantastic nation," he said.

While the traditional Australia Day breakfasts have been cancelled on the peninsula this year due to COVID, there are a number of COVID safe family events being planned.

The Manly Daily has requested a comment from Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan.


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