Federal Member for Bowman, Henry Pike, has committed to seek to protect 26 January as Australia Day by enshrining it in Commonwealth legislation.
Mr Pike said the move was necessary to prevent current or future governments putting woke ideology above the overwhelming opinion of Australian citizens.
“Australia’s flag and ANZAC Day are both protected in federal legislation, but Australia’s national day can be changed at the whim of the government of the day,” Mr Pike said.
“Every year we get the same old debate, but public opinion remains steadfastly in favour of maintaining our national day.”
“I want to take action to put the old debate to bed and let the national conversation move on to celebrating what Australia has achieved, reflecting on the lessons of the past, and determining how we are going to achieve our fullest potential.”
ANZAC Day was protected by law by the Keating Government through the Anzac Day Act 1995. The Flags Act 1953 was amended in 1998 to ensure that the Australian flag could only be changed through a national vote.
Mr Pike has drafted a Bill to enshrine the 26th of January as a National Day. The draft Bill will ensure that the National Day can only be changed by a majority of voters supporting an alternate proposal in a nationwide plebiscite that includes the option of retaining the current date.
“The current laws guarantee that our flag can’t be changed unless the people of Australia agree. We should have the same protection for our national day,” Mr Pike said.
“We shouldn’t try to hide from our past. 26 January 1788 was the day when the course of this continent’s history changed forever and we should use that day as an annual reminder of all we have accomplished as a nation.”
A 2021 Ipsos poll found that only 28% of Australians support the campaign to change the date of Australia Day away from 26 January.
Mr Pike said that he would be working with his Coalition colleagues, the crossbench and government members to get support for his proposal. Pike flagged his intention to introduce a Private Members Bill during the course of this year.
“It is an idea that has been floated before, but it is something I am determined to get on to the national agenda.”
“I know that a vast majority of people are with me on this issue and I am on a mission to ensure that their will is not ignored by the current or future governments.”
Australia Day commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788.
Mr Pike noted that Australia Day is the oldest of Australia’s national symbols as the celebration of January 26 was well established as a tradition nearly a century before the existence of the national flag or the landing at Gallipoli. January 26 was first gazetted as a public holiday in NSW in 1818.