When should we celebrate Australia Day?

Nick Young writes: Re. “When should Australia Day be, if not January 26?” (yesterday). Leaving aside changing the season from summer to autumn, I like the suggestion I’ve seen around on social media of May 8 — say it out loud and drawn out to get the full effect.

Adrian Jackson writes: The first Australia Day was on January 1, 1901, when the Commonwealth of Australia came into existence. January 26, 1788, was the first Sydney Convict Settlement Day and has nothing to do with the other states and territories. January 1 is already a holiday, the pointless New Year’s Day, after the equally pointless NYE, which is only a date change on the calendar. Why not have the Australia Day fireworks on the evening of January 1 instead of December 31? Some Aborigines dont like 26 January calling it Invasion Day too.

Ian Foster writes: In 1948 the Chifley government passed the Australian Nationality and Citizenship Act and in it specified it was to take effect from January 26, 1949.

As well as those born in Australia after 1949, all British subjects (by birth or naturalisation) who had resided in Australia for five years or more would be declared citizens of Australia as well.  This included, of course, all indigenous Australians (who had always had the formal status of “British Subject”), thousands of toddlers such as myself born in Australia and those many thousands who had emigrated from numerous foreign lands. It was a wonderfully inclusive expression of nationalism. I think celebrating January 26, 1949, every year is a wonderful idea as it marked a clear break with the past.

Peter Fray

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