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Australia Day attended by growing controversy and calls for date change

Increasing number of Australians question whether their titular national day is cause for gala at all

Australias deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, has told his fellow citizens who do not share his love of Australia Day they are miserable and can crawl under a stone and conceal.

The bonhomie, beer, and barbecues of Australias titular national day of 26 January marking the beginning of European settlement in 1788 is increasingly attended in the 21 st century by a furore over whether the date is cause for celebration at all.

Significant sections of Australias population most notably Indigenous Australians who insure the day as marking the beginning of more than two centuries of displacement and discrimination dispute the anniversary merit, labelling it instead Invasion Day or Survival Day.

It marks the date the British First Fleet, led by Captain Arthur Phillip, landed at Port Jackson and founded the settlement of New Albion, which was to become to modern city of Sydney.

The Fleet was 1,400 people, the majority of them convicts, and their arrival marked the beginning of European settlement on a land then known as New Holland, and regarded legally as Terra nullius belonging to no one despite more than 50,000 years of habitation by Australias indigenous nations.

About 750,000 Indigenous Australians are estimated to have been living in Australia when the First Fleet arrived.

In Australias modern political scenery, there is a certain irony too that the working day celebrates the arrival to Australia of unannounced guests by barge, an act now denounced as illegal and un-Australian by successive governments who have enacted progressively harsher policies to punish people who migrate irregularly.

Australia Day has, in recent years, become increasingly nationalistic in its celebration, with overt showings of flag-waving and dres, adoption of the national green-and-gold sporting colours, and adornment with Southern Cross tattoos( permanent and temporary ).

A human demonstrates off Australian flag tattoos during Australia Day celebrations. Photo: Chris Hopkins/ Getty Images

Several Australians of the Year, most recently Indigenous footballer Adam Goodes, who was honoured in 2014 for his contribution to athletic and to his community, have said the date of Australia Day should be changed.

Its a very sad day for a lot of our rabble … because of the sadness and the mourning and the sorrow of our people and a culture that regrettably has been lost to me through generations.

The head of the prime ministers Indigenous Advisory Council, Warren Mundine, has argued that 26 January has a devastate and emotional impact for many Australians.

Most Aboriginal indigenous people want to celebrate Australia Day and they feel the objective is Australians, that they are part of the Australian community, he said.

Mundine told 26 January marked the beginning of indigenous people being displaced from their land, carnages, children being taken from their parents, and the slow demolition of languages and culture. It was just like the end of the world for a lot of communities.

For Australia Day 2017, a collaboration of 12 hip-hop artists have released a way entitled Change the Date. In it, Northern Territory-raised artist Birdz verses: Black lives turn to black matter/ Clap sticks clap to the rhythm of a cocked-back hammer clap bang/ Here go another officer locking up another one of us like a popular fun thing to do/ Another genocide on the BBQ.

But there is government resistance to any date change. Joyce who last induced international headlines when he threatened to kill Johnny Depps illegally imported dogs said changing the date is a prime example of political correctness gone mad and that those who didnt like Australia Day should go to work.

I merely get sick of these people who every time, every time theres something on, they just wishes to stimulate you feel guilty, Joyce told radio.

They dont like Christmas, they dont like Australia Day, theyre simply miserable, gutted people and I wish they would creep under a stone and hide for a little bit.

Celebration of Australia Day began when Australia was still a colony of the United Kingdom, in the 1880 s. But it was not fully established as a public holiday across the country until 1994.

Now, it is formally marked with the announcement of the Australian of the Year for 2017, the biomolecular scientist Alan Mackay-Sim and a series of concerts, public events, and citizenship ceremonies.

Less formally, it is marked with barbecues, beach trip-ups, and beer, and a radio countdown of the 100 most popular songs of the year.

A host of alternative dates for Australia Day have been proposed, including 1 January, the day the modern nation-state of Australia came into being in 1901; 25 April, Anzac Day, celebrating the 1915 landing by Australian troops at Gallipoli, part of the British Expeditionary Forces-out unsuccessful invasion of that peninsula during the first world war, and; 3 December, the date of the 1854 Eureka Stockade, an mutiny by goldminers against repressive colonial taxation and regarded by many as the birth of Australian popular democracy.

The date, however, appears unlikely to change in the near-term, especially without a consensus alternative with overwhelming community support. It has been theorized that Australias new national day might be marked when and if the country becomes a republic.

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