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Immigration minister rejects proposal to recognize indigenous "hardship" on Australia Day
From:Xinhua  |  2021-01-20 19:10

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CANBERRA, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- Australia's Immigration Minister Alex Hawke on Wednesday rejected a proposal to hold a minute's silence for indigenous peoples on Australia Day.

Independent Member of Parliament Zali Steggall on Tuesday asked for Australia Day celebrations in her electorate to include a minute's silence to acknowledge the "discrimination and hardship" indigenous Australians have faced as a result of the British settlement of the country.

In response, Hawke said on Wednesday that the proposal played "negative politics with our history."

"It is disappointing to see an ill-considered proposal... that plays negative politics with our history and can only perpetuate divisions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians," he said in a statement. "The truth is Australia Day unifies us all, because of our shared history -- the good and the bad."

Australia Day, which is on Jan. 26, celebrates the anniversary of the arrival of the British First Fleet in Australia in 1788. Indigenous Australians have long campaigned for the day to be recognized as "Invasion Day".

"January 26 provokes a range of emotions for many within our community," Steggall said in a letter to the mayors of her electorate.

"While it marks the commencement of European colonization of this land, it also represents the commencement of violence, disempowerment and displacement of our Indigenous communities that has created sorrow, discrimination and hardship that has last for generations.

"It is only right that we acknowledge all that this day represents and build remembrance into our ceremonies to recognize that has been paid by First Australians." Enditem