Australia Day or Invasion Day? Country divided by celebrations and protests

Australia Day or Invasion Day? Country divided by celebrations and protests

While thousands of Australians celebrated Australia Day by going to the beach and participating in parades, others gathered to protest in what has become known as the Invasion Day Rally.

Some of the protesters want the date changed, while others want the day abolished entirely.

January 26 marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales, and the raising of the Flag of Great Britain at Sydney Cove by Governor Arthur Phillip.

It also is a time the country celebrates its 60,000 years of indigenous history.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was asked to comment about the Invasion Day rally by SBS News.

He said:

"Today is not a day for crab-walking away from our history as you heard me say today.

"I mean, in 1788, January 26 was a pretty miserable day for my ancestors as well, they came not by choice and in some pretty desperate circumstances.

"The thing is, Australia is the story of being able to overcome, to be able to see the better nature of Australians and the values we hold together from all races, all peoples, all cultures, all religions, all languages, even.

"That's what we actually celebrate today. That we are the great country we are today despite many of the things we've had to face in the past.

"You can't walk away from these things. You've got to come together."

However, according to a poll of 1,000 Australians carried out by the Institute of Public Affairs, 75% were in support of Australia Day on January 26, with 88% saying they were proud to be Australian.

76% of those who took part said that Australia has a history to be proud of, while 92% said freedom of speech is an important Australian value.

77% also said they believe freedom of religion is an important Australian value.

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