I find Australia Day personally confusing. Looking back at the various posts I have written about it, that contusion is reflected in my fluctuating views on the Day.
Australia Day used to be a relatively low key thing, but since the 1980s it has progressively grown into a major nation activity involving all levels of Government. I am distrustful of this type of celebration, I have similar reactions to the resurgence of ANZAC Day, because it so often plays to national jingoism and self-promotion.
There is, however, an issue with the 26 January date, for it marks the day on which the First Fleet arrived in Port Jackson when Governor Philip raised the British Flag.
To many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, this is Invasion Day or or Survival Day. This has resulted in counter demonstrations and celebrations that have come to form an integral part of Australia Day. Many Indigenous people and their supporters in the non-Aboriginal community want the date changed, arguing that a new date would be more representative of the total Australia. They also argue that this would aid reconciliation.
Again, my own views have fluctuated. I can see the argument for, although I also think that a date change might well impede the Aboriginal desire to bring about change by removing a potent symbolic platform. However, it seems clear that the majority of Australians presently do not want the date changed. A poll carried out by McNair for the Guardian suggested that only 15% of Australian in total wanted the date changed. By contrast, 54% of Indigenous respondents wanted a change in date.
It is possible to discuss (and report on) Australia Day, including a possible date change, in a respectful manner seeking information, seeking to understand other peoples' positions. That was absent from some of the headlines and comment threads. In an increasingly fragmented and polarised electorate, Australia Day and especially the date has become another of those symbolic "left-right" issues providing a focal point for division. .
My personal position on the date has shifted from support for a date change (that was itself a shift) to support for the status quo because I think that the current date is important in providing a framework for dialogue and change.
However, I don't really want to play here, to become engaged in partisan discussion. I will go along with whatever the final consensus is. Meantime, I will enjoy the party elements and spectacle of the day.