Commemorate instead of celebrate Australia Day, Indigenous leader says

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An Indigenous community leader says January 26 should be a day of commemoration instead of the celebration of the 'day darkness fell upon us'.

One of the organisers of Sydney's Invasion Day rally says he would rather Australia Day become a national day of mourning over a date change.

Pastor Ray Minniecon, an Indigenous leader from Queensland, told SBS's NITV Australia Day should be a time for commemoration, not partying.

"The 26th of January will always be a day of mourning for our people," he said.

Pastor Ray Minniecon says Australia Day is the 'day darkness fell upon us'.
Pastor Ray Minniecon says Australia Day is the 'day darkness fell upon us'.
NITV

"We can call it 'Invasion Day', 'Survival Day', all those kinds of things ... our ancestors designated this day as a day of mourning ... it was the day darkness fell upon us.

"I personally don't want to see the date change. I'd rather us commemorate what happened rather than celebrate the massacre of our people."

Pastor Minniecon was responding to Tony Abbott's claims British colonisation was a "good thing" for Indigenous people.

"What happened on the 26th of January 1788 was on balance, for everyone - Aboriginal people included - a good thing because it brought Western civilisation to this country, it brought Australia into the modern world," Mr Abbott told 2GB radio in response to questions about keeping the existing date of Australia Day.

"The man is an idiot," Pastor Minniecon said of Mr Abbott's comments.

"It was a deliberate invasion of our people ... the massacres, the genocides of our peoples from this country and we're still suffering from the aftermath of that brutal history," Pastor Minniecon said.

He felt Mr Abbott's comments were "stupidity" and encouraged him to "get an education about Aboriginal history".

Malcolm Turnbull has dismissed Tony Abbott's claim that the arrival of the First Fleet was a good thing for indigenous Australians.
Malcolm Turnbull has dismissed Tony Abbott's claim that the arrival of the First Fleet was a good thing for indigenous Australians.
AAP

"He needs a better understanding of what happened in this country in terms of the invasion of our country," Pastor Minniecon said.

"A true reading of the history would tell us that the First Fleet was filled with convicts. They made my country into the biggest jailhouse on the planet."

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also dismissed Tony Abbott's comments.

"Obviously, it had tragic consequences for thousands of indigenous Australians and the wrongs that were done in the past we are setting right," Mr Turnbull told reporters.

In 2016 Mr Turnbull said the colonisation of Australia could be described fairly as an invasion.

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