Letters to the editor

January 25, 2018

Australia Day Ceremony Australian Flag LD

Gesture of respect

- Jan Maude, Shepparton

Having read The News on Tuesday I feel compelled to write about the comments of all those councillors who decided not to support Seema Abdullah in her sensitivity to the feelings of the large indigenous population in our electorate.

Those comments seemed to range from the uninformed to the apathetic.

No, Cr Giovanetti, the past won’t be changed through changing our date for national celebration, but it would be an acknowledgement that we got it wrong back then and now have the desire to ensure our First Nations people can readily join us in future celebrations of nationhood.

As for Cr Patterson’s comment, Australia Day has not always been January 26, but has been quite mercurial and only settled on January 26 in 1994.

Cr Sutton thinks we should not be looking at what happened in the past, but isn’t that what Australia Day is about? First settlement?

Why is one historical event more eligible for remembrance than another?

Yes, we all want to work towards a positive future, but we can only do that when we have taken steps to unify our community in that quest.

Cr O’Keefe seems to be hedging her bets by not supporting a change but at the same time acknowledging it is important that we recognise indigenous history. How can we do this and not consider the impact of having our Australia Day celebration on its current date?

Then we have the ‘‘non-committals’’, acknowledging the division the debate causes, but reluctant to act, duck-shoving the responsibility to the Federal Government.

Surely, as councillors representing our community they have learned that movement from the grass roots is the way to bring change. Just look at the recent equal opportunity debate.

Thank you for your gesture of respect, Seema Abdullah!

Seek views of all

- Fran Smullen, Ardmona

With interest I read Tuesday’s News article which canvased councillors’ views in regards to changing the date of Australia Day.

What was perplexing was the expressed concern ‘‘this was not an issue for councils to take [it] upon themselves to make decisions about.’’

On one level this view has some merit.

Without a due process of community consultation and engagement, council cannot take it upon itself to make such a decision, but it can engage with community to find out the various stakeholder views in its local government area without just shutting down the conversation by passing the buck elsewhere.

Recently published polls strongly suggest that most Australians are not disturbed by the possibility of changing the date of Australia Day.

What would be the views of different stakeholders in Greater Shepparton, and how might council find out what these are?

Council prides itself on its engagement and consultation with communities throughout Greater Shepparton, and has been seen to consult on a number of issues.

Why then would it not be possible to engage communities and the various stakeholders in conversation about Australia Day, its impact on all citizens of Greater Shepparton, and whether people would want to change the date?

Kathryn Arndt, chief executive officer of the Victorian Local Governance Association, recently said, ‘‘Councils have the closest touch point of any level of government and the communities in which people live and work.’’

She went on to say Section 3 of the Victorian Local Government Act ‘‘provides for and requires that councils do represent and advocate on behalf of their communities at other levels of government.’’

This is not just a federal issue. Rather it is a grassroots conversation that needs to involve all of us. I agree with Ms Arndt when she says, ‘‘I think this is just the beginning of a long conversation and we have to be mindful that there are many stakeholders and different groups who would want a voice in this, and in fact within those groups there is not a unanimous view on this topic.’’

Ms Arndt’s view speaks of the importance of conversations that warrant thought, deliberation and due process and time for decisions to be taken.

This is an evolving conversation I would contend we have to have.

Council is not just about delivering services, roads and rubbish collection, but also a body that is ‘‘at the forefront of leading social change’’.

Let us all rejoice

- Louis Cook, Numurkah

It is interesting to note the mutterings of a few people each Australia Day, giving vent to their ignorance of Australian history when they complain of the date — January 26 — as the day to celebrate nationhood.

It is not the date which offends but Australia Day itself.

They will not be happy until all of our cultural celebrations are consigned to the black hole of ‘white’ memory.

Australian history and the building of this nation since 1788 is something to really celebrate.

The early settlement was part of a deliberate plan, driven by pseudo economics, as European countries sought to protect and expand trade routes.

It is still happening today with Asia and other nations.

The early settlers brought with them political, religious and cultural beliefs and were ordered by the King of the day, George III, to befriend any indigenous people as they settled the new land — this they did.

The convict element were also selected for the skills they could contribute to developing the new land ... yes, it was a form of conscripted labour, but many were far better off than they would have been in the old country.

You would not think so reading the socially-engineered history taught today.

The American War of Independence started in 1776, two years before Governor Philip sailed into Botany Bay with the First Fleet.

The bloody French Revolution of 1789 signalled great change in Europe.

World events moved along with the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and then the Battle of Waterloo in 1812.

Meanwhile, the early settlers here were building a home for future generations — to quote the words from the national anthem ‘‘it was wealth for toil’’ and they did toil.

The United States had a destructive Civil War in 1861 and some of the survivors made their way here to begin a new life.

Australians have never experienced that type of war horror, but came close in Darwin during 1942.

To celebrate Australia Day is far more than a form of ‘beat-up jingoism’ but recognition of a nation with a system of government which allows dissident views while welcoming foreigners to live here under our rules.

Australia is one of the first countries to offer help to countries in need — compare that to the record of others.

There is much more to tell but the modern socialist indoctrinated historian can only write about ‘invasion day’ and ‘black wars’ but never a mention of the work of Daisy Bates, Ion Idriess and other writers who lived through the times.

Don’t take my word for it, read Botany Bay: the Real Story by Professor Alan Frost or Journey to Canberra: By road from Sydney in search of history and curiosa by Frank Clune.

Be selective with your historical education because there is much written coloured by Marxist theory and it is all red.

Australia has much to celebrate and may have some perceived imperfections, but please show us a better place to live and then share it with the ‘boat people’.

In the meantime, the Prime Minister is making another call for a republic.

Look around, there is not one republic on the planet worth emulating.

Heaven forbid, we could finish up with one of that lot in Canberra as the first president.

Yes, celebrate Australia Day, reject the political correctness fostered by the new elite as you sing with great gusto, ‘‘Australians all let us rejoice’’.

Move forward

- Peter Martin, Shepparton

I write to congratulate all the city councillors who stood firm in respect to keeping Australia Day on January 26, which is a right and proper date to celebrate this great but imperfect federation.

David Schier’s inappropriate use of the word genuflect indicates that he doesn’t understand the responsibilities of the various levels of government.

This matter rests with the federal sphere.

Cr Seema Abdullah is entitled to her opinion but it would be better if she understood the issue more fully.

The current-day Aboriginal peoples only came to Australia around 1200AD and with the later assistance of shipwrecked crews, the arrival of people from Asia, and finally the British, they jointly alienated the original peoples through fighting and disease.

So we are all invaders if we want to use that word, and all have done some dreadful things in the process.

So how about forgiving our forefathers both British and Aboriginal alike and start working for a unified, happy and grateful Australia.

We ought to be grateful that Japan did not win the war.

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