THE Greens’ federal candidate for Fremantle Jesse Hutchinson has waded headlong into the Australia Day debate, declaring he’ll attend the Invasion Day rally in Perth this Saturday.
Mr Hutchinson believes Fremantle is behind changing the date based on the big turn outs at the council’s One Day event, held just after Australia Day, and supportive conversations with locals.
“I am proud to be part of a community that acknowledges that celebrating our country on January 26 excludes First Nations peoples and denies our shared history,” he says.
“First Nations peoples have been protesting and boycotting the many different forms Australia Day has taken for over a century.
“On January 26 the Greens will join with First Nations peoples and their allies across Australia and attend Invasion Day rallies.”
Mr Hutchinson, a school teacher, acknowledges the Invasion Day rally is more divisive than the One Day event.
“It is a step up,” he says. “Politically it’s a bit stronger, but we’ve done that deliberately.”
He says many of the people against changing the date “don’t quite understand the seriousness of these issues, that for Indigenous people it marks dispossession, it marks the day they lost rights on their land, so we’re attending Invasion Day to have these difficult conversations.
“We’re not trying to create division,” he says, and they support having a national day of celebration, “we just believe we need to do it on a day that’s inclusive of everyone and doesn’t represent dispossession and genocide.”
Labor leader Bill Shorten has said the January 26 date should not be moved, but in late 2016 Labor Fremantle MP Josh Wilson defended Freo council’s bid to hold citizenship ceremonies at its One Day event instead of on Australia Day.
Liberal Fremantle candidate Nicole Robins, a Melville councillor, is firmly in favour of keeping the date.
On her campaign page she posted a statement: “Like most Australians, I support keeping Australia Day on January 26.
“It is always disappointing to see the Greens and activist councils such as the Fremantle council trying to undermine the day with divisive political campaigning aimed at changing the date.”
by DAVID BELL