Former federal Labor leader Mark Latham has launched a bizarre “Save Australia Day” ad campaign in Sydney supported by indigenous Alice Springs councillor Jacinta Price.
The campaign includes television, radio and social media advertisements depicting an Orwellian future where families, shoppers and the elderly are all too paranoid to celebrate Australia Day openly.
“In an environment where you have so much political correctness, where certain words, themes and values are banned in public institutions, I think the Big Brother approach, that dystopian theme, is very appropriate,” Mr Latham told reporters on Wednesday.
The politician-turned-pundit says the campaign is being rolled out ahead of January 26 to combat a push to move Australia Day, given that many Aboriginal people consider the date to be “invasion day”.
Ms Price said she was proud of the campaign and sick of indigenous voices being lumped together.
“We’ve got to stop painting each other with the same brush … not all white people are racists and not all Aboriginal people are feeling like they are victims of our country’s history,” Ms Price told reporters via Skype.
Ms Price and Mr Latham argue indigenous people should shift their focus from seeing the day as one for mourning and instead think about the future.
“A lot of terrible things happened in the 19th and 20th centuries, no one’s wiping that history away, but we can’t rewrite that history,” Mr Latham said.
“What we can do is adopt Jacinta’s agenda of finding positive solutions so all indigenous people benefit from the western civilisation opportunities that came here in 1788.”
Ben Silverstein, who teaches indigenous histories at Sydney University, acknowledges Aboriginal opinion on changing the date of Australia Day is varied.
But he says for too many the day is seen as a memorialising of death.
“Victorian Aboriginal activist William Cooper wrote in 1938 that the memorial of the coming of the whites is a memorial of death to Aboriginal people,” Dr Silverstein told AAP.
“To commemorate that day is to commemorate invasion and indigenous death.”
Thousands of Australians marched from Redfern to Victoria Park on January 26 last year demanding Australia’s national day be moved.
At the same time, NSW Governor David Hurley told indigenous Australians: “We understand on this day 229 years ago the coming of the First Fleet wreaked a terrible impact on your people, your families and your culture.”
A number of local council across the country in 2017 said they’d move Australia Day celebrations from January 26 out of respect for indigenous people.