Labor frontbencher Linda Burney says indigenous social justice issues should be given more focus than a campaign to change the date of Australia Day.
An indigenous Labor frontbencher has urged the government and the Greens to focus on more important indigenous issues than the date of Australia Day.
Linda Burney called on the minor party and the coalition to focus on the broader issues affecting indigenous Australians following intense political debate in the lead-up to Friday’s public holiday.
There’s been a renewed push to change the date, which marks the arrival of the First Fleet because it is painful for many indigenous people.
Greens leader Richard Di Natale has made changing the date one of his party’s priorities in 2018, while the government and Labor want to retain January 26.
Ms Burney said social justice outcomes in incarceration, health and education should be the focus in the indigenous affairs sphere.
“Those are the really big issues the Greens would do well to focus on, as would the government,” she told ABC radio.
Ms Burney said she wanted the debate about constitutional recognition of indigenous people to return to prominence, while pointing out “Closing the Gap” targets would not be met on time.
The NSW Labor MP weighed in after former prime minister Tony Abbott, a strident supporter of maintaining Australia Day’s current date, claimed British arrival was a good thing for indigenous Australians.
Ms Burney said Mr Abbott’s comments showed ignorance while Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull distanced himself from his predecessor’s remarks.