Majority of Australians do not care about Australia Day celebration: poll

Source: Xinhua| 2018-01-18 13:58:20|Editor: Lifang
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CANBERRA, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- A majority of Australians do not care when Australia Day is celebrated, a poll has found.

The poll, released by the Australia Institute on Thursday, revealed that 56 percent of respondents would not mind if the date of Australia Day is changed.

Australia Day is currently celebrated on January 26 to coincide with the arrival of the British Frist Fleet on Australian shores in 1788.

The date has become increasingly controversial in recent years, however, with indigenous Australians labelling it a national day of mourning and declaring it Invasion Day to commemorate the beginning of the violence of British colonization.

The poll also found that less than half of respondents were able to identify the arrival of the First Fleet as the reason that Australia Day is celebrated on January 26.

"This polling shows that while Australia Day is important to most Australians, most people are laid back about the date we celebrate on," Ebony Bennett, Deputy Director of the Australia Institute, said in a media release on Thursday.

"When asked to choose which date Australia Day should be celebrated on, less than a quarter chose the current date from a range of options."

The poll of 1417 people was conducted after Australia's left-wing Greens announced that changing the date would be a priority of the party in 2018.

Prime Minister PM Malcolm Turnbull has moved to shut down the debate, accusing those who want to change the date as "seeking to take a day that unites Australia and Australians and turn it into one that would divide us."

However, Ken Wyatt, Australia's Aged Care Minister and the only indigenous man in the lower house of Australian parliament, contradicted the PM on Thursday, saying "we shouldn't close out minds" to change.

"Any change would need a good rigorous debate about alternative dates. That discussion should continue," Wyatt told Fairfax Media on Thursday.

He said that the change should be tied to the move for Australia to become a Republic to achieve success.

"I think it is inevitable that we will become a republic," Wyatt said.

"And when we do, the day we become a republic should become Australia Day."

Wyatt, who described the arrival of the First Fleet as an "invasion that ended 60,000 years of unimpeded enjoyment of this continent", urged activists to have patience on the issue, saying that closing the gap between indigenous Australians and white Australians was more important.