I CONGRATULATE Fremantle City Council for cancelling its Australia-Day fireworks display.
Indigenous Australians have nothing to celebrate on that date, which marked the arrival of British settlers in Port Jackson/Sydney in 1788.
Of British Isles descent myself, celebrating that date in effect means that people like me are saying to the indigenous, whose ancestors lived here for more than 50,000 years, “You don’t count. You don’t matter. This place was nothing until people like me settled here.”
Australia is the only country in the world that celebrates its national day as the arrival of European settlers.
Historically, Australia Day was celebrated only in New South Wales, for which it has much more significance than elsewhere.
It is worse in WA, where WA Day celebrates the first arrival of British settlers in Perth. Hence, we have not one, but two public holidays a year that extol European settlement.
What are the alternatives?
Canadians celebrate their (1867) Federation Day on July 1 each year. Unfortunately, our Federation Day, the first time the entire continent was united as a single political entity in 1901, falls on January 1, already the New Year holiday.
My favourite is New Zealand’s Waitangi Day, celebrating the 1840 treaty between Maori and British settlers.
My suggestion is, after indigenous recognition in our Constitution, to write a long-belated treaty between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians and celebrate that on good ol’ 26 January each year..
That would be a holiday that ALL Australians could happily celebrate.
TOM WILSON, Halls Head.