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I’m with Jeff Kennett. I never thought I could say that, but I agree with him that Australia Day should be moved to 1 January - to commemorate the beginning of the Commonwealth of Australia, a new progressive nation, whose very name signified the ideals of collective commitment and communal wealth and a repudiation of old world aristocracies and inequalities. We didn’t thereby become a republic, but the name, voted on by constitutional delegates in the 1890s had a distinctively ‘republican ring’ as a number of disgruntled conservative constitutional delegates noted.
January 26 continues to be a nettlesome date for the official celebration of the Australian nation and as a commemoration of our colonial foundation. Apart from the significant nuisance that it falls so close to the end of the holiday season, when our minds and emotions are trying to deal with seemingly more pressing obligations, its continued existence really asks a serious philosophical and moral question about not just about the date but also whether it should be celebrated at all.
The Macquarie legacy is still with us. It underpins our best instincts to give all residents in this country, whether Australian born, migrants or refugees an equal opportunity in life, a second chance. That ethos of redemption is a core part of our history.