No One’s Asked: Minister on Aust Day Date

The indigenous affairs minister says no one has approached him about changing the date of Australia Day.

Senator Nigel Scullion acknowledges people commemorate January 26 in different ways, but says no one had brought the case to change the date to him.

“It never comes up as an issue,” he told ABC radio on Friday.

Instead indigenous Australians are focused on their children getting a good education and access to health care.

“If you want to divide the nation this is how we go down that line,” Senator Scullion said.

He admitted the issue was a very low priority on his agenda, despite the recent debate.

His comments come after Tony Abbott described British settlement as “a very good thing” and attacked Bill Shorten for having a bet each way on the date of Australia Day.

The former prime minister said British settlement was something all Australians “on balance” could celebrate, and the country would not be improved by “wallowing in a kind of endless carping self-criticism”.

“British settlement was a very good thing, it wasn’t good immediately for everyone but the country, the modern Australia that emerged from British settlement stemming from the 26th of January 1788, is something that all of us on balance can and should be proud of,” Mr Abbott told 2GB radio.

Mr Shorten on Thursday said he supported Australia Day staying on January 26, but would not sneer at indigenous Australians wanting to discuss changing the date.

Mr Abbott said the Labor leader’s ambiguity on debate over the public holiday, which has again descended into a political pile-on, showed he was not ready to run the country.