Plan to protect Australia Day by law
AUSTRALIA Day would be fixed on January 26 by law under a plan by Coalition MPs to protect it from a "small and vocal minority" pushing to change the date.
The plan, spearheaded by Liberal senator Dean Smith, has already been branded "tacky" by Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek.
"We'd look at any legislation that is put forward … but I think everyone sees this for what it is - it's an effort to stoke a political correctness debate on the eve of Australia Day," she told ABC radio this morning.
"It's just tacky," Ms Plibersek added.
Senator Smith - a key figure behind the push to introduce same-sex marriage - has told The Australian he is willing to draft a private member's bill that would enshrine January 26 as Australia Day in law.
The plan has been backed by a group of Coalition MPs including Barnaby Joyce, Craig Kelly, Jason Wood and Michelle Landry.
In an editorial today, the West Australian senator says Australia Day is one of "Australia's most cherished symbols of nationhood" alongside the flag and Anzac Day.
"But unlike the other two icons, Australia Day remains unprotected and could easily fall victim to the whims of a political party or special interest lobby group interested in political pointscoring rather than celebrating the virtues of a contemporary and forward-looking Australia," Senator Smith said.
"A law to protect Australia Day will give Australians peace of mind that their national day will survive attempts from a very small and vocal minority that seeks to create division where there is unity, for political gain."
Under the proposed bill, Australians would have to be consulted directly on any plan to change the date and an alternative date must be submitted to every Australian elector.
"The more we have discussed Australia Day, the more we have become united about our support for the present date," Senator Smith said.
"Recent polls revealed up to 80 per cent of Australians are proud to celebrate Australia Day on January 26, including 98 per cent of Liberal voters and 73 per cent of Labor voters.
"With this clear and compelling community endorsement we can be confident that giving a legislative safeguard to protecting this cherished national celebration will be greeted with bipartisanship."
Mr Joyce told The Australian he would back the plan, saying: "I'm sick of the social expansionists from the Left who come up with a whole list of reasons to do whatever they can to change every tenet of Australian society, always finding some moral reason as to why it should happen."
Ms Landry also told the publication it was a good idea.
"I do worry about what Labor would do with the influence of the Greens," she said.
"Labor is becoming increasingly reliant on the Greens for preferences and if the (Greens) say they want to (change the date) for preferences in a certain seat, then they could very well do it."
Read more at The Australian.