An Aboriginal Labor MP has called for the Queen‘s Birthday to be replaced with a public holiday recognising indigenous Australians.
Senior federal Opposition frontbencher Linda Burney, the first indigenous woman elected to the House of Representatives, said she accepted Australia Day would not be moved from January 26 ‘any time soon’.
As an alternative, the Sydney-based MP suggested the Queen’s Birthday public holiday, which will fall on June 11 this year, be replaced with a new public holiday recognising the first Australians.
‘Australia should have a national public holiday that celebrates, that lifts up, that recognises our first nation’s peoples, first nation’s stories,’ she told ABC radio on Wednesday. ‘That would be a day that everyone could absolutely get behind.
‘A public holiday, where all Australians can celebrate first Australians and the extraordinary, wonderful, unique history we have in this country of human occupation which is over 60,000 years.’
Ms Burney, a first-term federal MP, compared the idea of a special holiday recognising indigenous people with Martin Luther King Jr Day in the United States, which has been held every January 15 since 1986 to recognise the assassinated civil rights leader.
The Queen’s Birthday long weekend will be observed on June 11 this year in all states except Western Australia and Queensland, which will give workers a Monday off on September 24 and October 1 respectively.
The United Kingdom doesn’t have a public holiday for the Queen’s birthday.
Queen Elizabeth II, who has been Australia’s head of state since 1952, will turn 92 on April 21.
Ms Burney said she would advocating within the Labor Party for the Queen’s Birthday to be replaced by a new national holiday recognising indigenous people, after NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley raised the idea in August last year.
Her intervention into the debate about celebrating indigenous Australians comes as the Greens and left-wing activists call for Australia Day to be moved from January 26.
They regard the 1788 arrival of the British First Fleet in Sydney Harbour as an ‘Invasion Day’ that is akin to ‘genocide’.