Incarceration, health and education are just some of the Indigenous issues Linda Burney said the government should be focusing on, instead of changing the date of Australia day.
As January 26 approaches, the conversation continues to approach a boiling point across the country.
From former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s comments about the arrival of the First Fleet being a ‘good thing’ for Indigenous Australians, to a twitter war between Music artists featured in Cory Bernardi’s AC100 – it’s a day that is causing debate across the nation.
"Let's focus on the big issues that really need facing in the Indigenous affairs space."
Despite the growing focus on changing the date, the opposition spokesperson for Human Services, Linda Burney said the focus should be on more important Indigenous issues.
“Where has the debate around constitutional reform gotten to?" she asked on ABC Radio.
"How are we possibly going to listen again to the Closing the Gap Report which is due in a few months when we know that those hallmarks have not been met and will not be met according to the Closing the Gap time frame?”
It comes after Indigenous Victorian Green MP, Lydia Thorpe, yesterday said the flag should fly at half-mast on January 26 to mark the suffering of Indigenous people.
For many Indigenous Australians, January 26 represents a day or morning, survival and invasion as British colonists invaded the land and the mark of culture loss begun. The push to change the date has stemmed from an aim to create a more inclusive day to celebrate on.
Greens leader Richard Di Natale has made changing the date one of his party's priorities in 2018 and launched a petition explaining why changing the date is so important and calling on Prime Minister Turnbull to recognise and acknowledge Australia’s black past.
“As long as Australia Day continues to be celebrated on that date, we will be unable to move forward together as a nation. As it stands we are actively celebrating a day of mourning, a day of pain for many First Australians. This diminishes us all,” Di Natale said in a statement.
When it comes to Abbott’s suggestion about British settlement being good for Indigenous Australians, Burney thinks he ignored the intricacy and connection Aboriginal people have with the land.
“I think Mr Abbott missed the point in recognising the complexity of Aboriginal culture and history and society prior to British colonisation and invasion.”
Di Natale also thinks Abbott has missed the point but he turned to social media to reveal his thoughts more bluntly, suggesting we 'celebrate the day he retires' as a national holiday.
Several prominent Indigenous and non-Indigenous celebrities, sports stars, politicians and others have also revealed their take on January 26.