'I look forward to celebrating it': Joyce remains firm on Australia Day date

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The Greens leader said the party would organise a major political campaign focused on abandoning January 26 as the official date of Australia Day.

The federal Greens will continue to argue for Australia Day to be permanently rescheduled out of respect for Indigenous Australians in 2018, leader Richard Di Natale has revealed. 

The renewed push from the Greens, who hold nine Senate seats and one seat in the House of Representatives, comes just weeks before this year's Australia Day. 

Some local councils in Victoria have changed the date of their local celebrations already, including Yarra, Darebin and also Fremantle in WA. 

Senator Di Natale said he wanted more councils to follow their lead.

He said the federal party would coordinate with more than 100 local councillors around the country to prosecute the case. 

"We want to choose a day that brings the nation together," Senator Di Natale told reporters on Monday. 

"We need to acknowledge that there are people who see January 26 as a day that represents pain and suffering, the ongoing effect of which can still be felt today," he said. 

"It might not be this year, it might not be next year, but I'm very confident that ultimately we'll see the date changed." 

The issue has attracted more public attention in recent months following the decision of the ABC's youth radio station Triple J to move its popular Hottest 100 countdown away from January 26, in keeping with feedback from a listener survey. 

Many Indigenous leaders have been pushing for the change for years.

January 26 marks the date the First Fleet landed in Sydney Cove in 1788 and the beginning of British colonisation in Australia.

The Turnbull government is strongly opposed to moves to change the date of Australia Day and has punished councils that make efforts to separate the occasion from January 26 by revoking their right to conduct citizenship ceremonies on the day.

Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce criticised the Greens' emphasis on the Australia Day issue, speaking at a Monday morning press conference about the government's inland rail project. 

"They dwell in the philosophical, we build the things that actually make our nation stronger," Mr Joyce said. 

"I don't care, wherever you've come from, you've come to this nation and this nation is now your home.

"We have a day to celebrate it, and it's called Australia Day. I look forward to celebrating it this year." 

Former Liberal prime minister Tony Abbott aired his opinion on Twitter. He said there were "364 other days a year for the Greens to be politically correct". 

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Save Australia Day ad campaign slammed by Change the Date movement.
Save Australia Day ad campaign slammed by Change the Date movement.

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