• Mark Latham has launched a campaign aiming to 'save' Australia Day. (AAP)
For Mark Latham, a dystopian and totalitarian country awaits us if Australians continue to push for changing the date of Australia Day on January 26th.
By
Ryan Liddle

Source:
NITV News, SBS News
11 Jan 2018 - 5:35 PM  UPDATED 11 Jan 2018 - 6:00 PM

“For the time’s they are a-changin'”…  Ever since Bob Dylan released the hit song back in 1964, it has been used the world over as an anthem for social and political upheaval. This phrase could not be more relevant than it is now.

But former Labour leader Mr Latham’s answer to the changing times was to release a new 2-minute long bizarre quasi-drama (easily mistaken with satire or black comedy) where families, shoppers and the elderly are all too paranoid to celebrate Australia Day openly.

"In an environment where you have so much political correctness, where certain words, themes and values are banned in public institutions, I think the Big Brother approach, that dystopian theme, is very appropriate," Mr Latham told reporters on Wednesday.

Even though the debate about changing the date has been ongoing for years, it reached its zenith in 2017. According to Twitter, the change the date hashtag even grew 1200% compared to 2016.

Several local councils around the country have jumped on board and changed their January 26th plans to less offensive dates, despite raising the ire of Federal Politicians, including the Prime Minister.

Fellow national broadcaster, The ABC, and their radio station Triple J, even changed the date of their iconic Hottest 100 music countdown, which has ironically featured a hit song about changing the date by Indigenous Rap Group A.B.Original.  

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Despite some outrage online and criticism from the communications minister, Australia's First Nations artists and many others have come out in support of a decision by Triple J to move the Hottest 100 away from Australia Day.

Now while Mr Latham did not appear in the advertisement, titled Save Australia Day, or S.A.D. for short, (SAD-vertsiment?) outspoken Indigenous Territorian, Jacinta Price, did.

Jacinta Price, a local town councillor in Alice Springs, said she was proud of the campaign and sick of Indigenous voices being lumped together.

"We've got to stop painting each other with the same brush ... not all white people are racists and not all Aboriginal people are feeling like they are victims of our country's history," Cr Price told reporters via Skype.

Cr Price and Mr Latham argue Indigenous people should shift their focus from seeing the day as one for mourning and instead think about the future.

"A lot of terrible things happened in the 19th and 20th centuries, no one's wiping that history away, but we can't rewrite that history," Mr Latham said.

"What we can do is adopt Jacinta's agenda of finding positive solutions so all Indigenous people benefit from the western civilisation opportunities that came here in 1788."

Cr Prices’s comments attracted the attention of former athlete turned advocate Joe Williams.

Mr Williams posted this on social media saying he had been inundated with requests for comment following the launch if the S.A.D. video.

In his post, Mr Williams explains Cr Price didn't speak for him or "the vast majority of our Aboriginal people".

"I respect Jacinta as a woman and particularly as an Aboriginal woman, but strongly disagree with her comments - I'd prefer to show empathy to our ones still hurting, not say get over it and assimilate," he wrote.

Rod Little, from the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples co-chairman, is standing for change.

"We've been talking about this date and the impacts it had on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for a very long time," he told SBS News.

"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can't celebrate a day when you've had your lands invaded."

As the Save Australia Day campaigners plan to step up its efforts to preserve what its backers believe is a celebration of Australia's achievements, Mr Little says it will only intensify the opposition's mission.

"That approach is insensitive to First Peoples, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the first peoples of Australia," he said.

"I think it will actually stimulate more encouragement for dates to be moved or Australia Day to be celebrated on a different date."

It’s expected the #changethedate debate will no doubt intensify as January 26 draws closer.

With AAP

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