September 24, 2023

Australia Day 2023 Victoria

Australia Day 2023 Victoria – The date of Australia Day is controversial, but a social media post claims that why January 26 is the date for national celebrations has been “lost”, misunderstood or misrepresented in the media.

A Facebook post dated 1 February 2020 makes several claims about Australia Day, including that ‘Australia Day does not celebrate the arrival of the First Fleet’, that the bicentenary celebrations in Sydney in 1988 focused on the landing of Captain Cook and is celebrated on 26 January because Australian citizenship laws were passed on that date in 1949.

Australia Day 2023 Victoria

Australia Day 2023 Victoria

“Read this to understand why we celebrate it on January 26, it’s not what you think!” says the post.

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The post has been viewed by over 600,000 people, shared over 9,000 times and received over 1,900 reactions and over 1,100 comments.

Australia Day 2023 Victoria

The Facebook post begins by stating that Australia Day “does not celebrate the arrival of the First Fleet or the invasion of anything”.

Information released by both the Australia Day Council, the government’s umbrella body for Australia Day, and Tourism Australia, the government body responsible for attracting international visitors, said the date marks the anniversary of the first float.

Australia Day 2023 Victoria

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Professor Frank Bongiorno, from the Australian National University School of History, told FactCheck in an email that Australia Day is celebrated on January 26 to mark the date the first fleet, led by Captain Arthur Phillip, arrived at Sydney Cove in 1788.

The message does say that Captain Cook landed in Sydney on 28 April 1770. It also says that the first fleet arrived at Botany Bay on 18 January, although it omits the year, which was 1788.

Australia Day 2023 Victoria

He then states that “the 26th has been chosen as Australia Day for another reason” without mentioning what that reason is.

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The message goes on to say that at the “extravagant bicentenary celebrations in 1988”, Sydney-Siders “decided that Captain Cook’s landing should be the focus of Australia Day commemorations”.

Australia Day 2023 Victoria

Professor Helen Irving, a constitutional law expert at the University of Sydney, told FactCheck in an email that the message was “filled with confusion”.

“The first ship of the First Fleet landed at Botany Bay on 18 January 1788, but the fleet then went on to Port Jackson (what became Sydney), where the British flag was raised on 26 January 1788,” he told FactCheck.

Australia Day 2023 Victoria

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“It was the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 that was marked (the bicentenary) in 1988, not the arrival of Cook.”

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Reports and photos from and around 1988 show that the First Fleet was the focus of Sydney Harbour’s bicentenary celebrations.

Australia Day 2023 Victoria

Another claim in the post is that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people born after 1 January 1921 were granted “British subject” status under the Nationality Act 1920.

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A report entitled ‘Australian Citizenship: A Chronology of Major Developments in Policy and Law’ in the Parliamentary Library of Australia states that the Nationality Act 1920 ‘introduced a definition of a ‘natural’ British person and the conditions of residence for naturalisation.

Australia Day 2023 Victoria

These requirements for being a British subject included being born in a country ruled by or allied with the king, having a father who was a British subject, or being born on a British ship.

However, Professor Irving has argued that anyone born in Australia before the Nationality Act 1920 was already considered a British subject at common law.

Australia Day 2023 Victoria

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“The Nationality Act 1920 simply enshrined this common law principle in legislation for the first time,” he said.

On 26 January 1949, the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 came into force. This Act created Australian citizenship and the conditions for obtaining it.

Australia Day 2023 Victoria

The message says that before the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948, Australians were not protected by the law.

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Professor Irving told FactCheck that under the 1948 Act, anyone born in Australia was both an Australian citizen and a British subject.

Australia Day 2023 Victoria

Professor Irving argued that Aboriginal people had British subject status before 1948, in common with other Australians, and after 1948 they had Australian citizenship.

“As subjects/citizens, they were subject to and protected by the law in the same way as non-Aboriginal Australians,” he said.

Australia Day 2023 Victoria

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“Aboriginal people were certainly subject to special laws that applied specifically to them as Aboriginal Australians, and those laws were often oppressive and discriminatory, but those laws did not discriminate on the basis of whether or not they had citizenship.”

The Nationality and Citizenship Act came into force on 26 January 1949 and the post says this is why Australia celebrates its National Day on this date.

Australia Day 2023 Victoria

Professor Irving told FactCheck the claim was incorrect because Australia Day was already celebrated on January 26 before 1948.

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“The date was not chosen to mark the proclamation of the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948,” he said.

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Australia Day 2023 Victoria

“Rather, January 26 was chosen as the date for the proclamation of the Act because it was already celebrated as Australia Day.”

A parliamentary research paper by Margaret Harrison-Smith notes that Tasmania celebrated ‘Foundation Day’ on 26 January 1888. Victoria and Western Australia also celebrated the date in the early 20th century, and in 1930 the Indigenous Association proposed an annual ‘Australia Day’. party.

Australia Day 2023 Victoria

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A year later, Victoria first adopted the name “Australia Day” and since 1946 January 26 “has been recognized throughout Australia as Australia Day and a public holiday taken on or around this date”, according to the research paper.

In September 1948, then Immigration Secretary Arthur Calwell told federal parliament that when the Nationality and Citizenship Act came into force, “it shall be proclaimed Australia Day, 26 January 1949”.

Australia Day 2023 Victoria

The claim that Australia Day “does not celebrate the arrival of the First Fleet” is false according to a history professor, the Australia Day Council and Tourism Australia.

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Contrary to the claim that Australians became British subjects when the Nationality Act 1920 was passed, constitutional law professor Helen Irving has argued that Australians were already subjects of international law.

Australia Day 2023 Victoria

And Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were not “protected by law” under the 1948 citizenship legislation, but had already been subject to the law as British subjects.

In the end, 26 January 1949 was not chosen as Australia Day to mark the passing of the Nationality and Citizenship Act, but rather the date of 26 January was chosen for the passing of the new laws because it already had significance as a national day of celebration.

Australia Day 2023 Victoria

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Australia Day 2023 Victoria

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Invasion Day 2023: A Guide To Protest Marches And Events Across Australia On 26 January

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Australia Day 2023 Victoria

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Australia Day 2023 Victoria

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Is Australia’s only independent news service, distributing stories and images daily across the country and around the world. By supporting your contribution, you are supporting a team of dedicated and objective journalists to continue this work. Thank you. For Australians, it is a day to recognize and celebrate the contribution each citizen makes to a vibrant, modern nation. However, there is another side to the coin. This day marks the anniversary of the arrival of the first fleet of British ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales in 1788. On 26 January, Captain Arthur Phillip officially took possession of the colony, raising the British flag at Sydney Cove. No wonder indigenous peoples and their supporters call December 26 Invasion Day or Survival Day, since that was when the colonization of the continent began. Therefore, you can participate in meetings that reflect their side of the story.

Adelaide hosts Survival Day at the National Institute of Indigenous Culture. Brisbane usually organizes an invasion day in front of Parliament, as well as a protest march. Canberra invites everyone to experience Aboriginal culture. There is dancing and music in Commonwealth Park and the National Museum of Australia hosts the Australia Day Festival. There is also the “Share the Spirit Festival” in Melbourne’s Treasury Gardens and another Survival Day celebration in Borthwick Park, Belgrave. Sydney has the ‘Yabun Festival’ which takes place in Victoria Park, which means ‘song with a beat’ in English.

Australia Day 2023 Victoria

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