Western Australian Labor senator under fire for labelling Australia Day a celebration of ‘white supremacy’

Western Australian Labor senator under fire for labelling Australia Day a celebration of ‘white supremacy’. By Paul Garvey.

Sue Lines, a senator for Western Australia who is also the deputy president of the senate, wrote on her Facebook page ….

“Australia Day celebrates white supremacy and the legacy of colonisation that is directly linked to the various ways we continue to fail First Nations people … It’s wrapped up in modern racist policies like the cashless debit card, with deaths in custody and our failure to close the gap. January 26th should be a day of mourning and reflection.”

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She said the current date commemorated the arrival of Arthur Phillips in Sydney in 1788, which began “a destructive era of colonisation, genocide and dispossession”. …

The comments and their promotion were seized upon by WA opposition leader Zak Kirkup, who described the post as “shameful and wholly unacceptable”.

“That statement by one of the most senior Labor politicians here in Western Australia is divisive,” he said.

“We’ve seen the continued polarisation of politics globally, and the language used here by Labor to divide Australians among themselves fails to deal with the actual issues that confront Aboriginal people in Western Australia.”

Mr Kirkup, whose paternal grandfather was Aboriginal, does not want the date of Australia Day to change and said the issue of the date had never been raised with him in his meetings with Indigenous communities around WA.

“Whether I’m up in Kununurra or in Geraldton or in Aboriginal communities in the Goldfields, not a single person there talks to me about changing the date,” he said.

“They want to make sure they have a government that addresses the challenges of the future. To end the cycle of violence and abuse and the failure to address the issues of poverty.”

Ms Lines’ state Labor colleague, WA treasurer and Aboriginal affairs minister Ben Wyatt, described the senator’s comments as “silly”. … Mr Wyatt, who is Indigenous, has long said that he believes the date will eventually change but only when there is a push from the Commonwealth government and widespread community support for the move.