The British settlement of Australia has been applauded as a “very good thing” by former prime minister Tony Abbott, who added that Australians must not give in to “carping self-criticism” over the passage of history.
Mr Abbott rejoiced that the arrival of British settlers “on balance” was something all Australians could celebrate as he criticised the Labor opposition for being “ambiguous” about the date of Australia Day, a time when the whole country comes together to remember its foundation as a British colony. Mr. Abbott said:
Why are these people so embarrassed about our country? I think there has been a deafening silence from the Labor Party top the extent any Labor Party people have spoken they have tried to have a bet each way, which is so typical.
But we can’t be ambiguous about our country: Australia is a great country, we are not perfect but we are as good as anywhere and yes we must work as hard as we can to make ourselves better but we don’t do that by wallowing in a kind of endless carping self-criticism.
British settlement was a very good thing, it wasn’t good immediately for everyone but the country, the modern Australia that emerged from British settlement stemming from the 26th of January 1788, is something that all of us on balance can and should be proud of.
Australia Day is traditionally celebrated on January 26, marking date in 1788 when the First Fleet from Britain came ashore in Sydney Cove.
There have been increasing calls in Australia for the date to be changed, with indigenous leaders joining critics from the Green Party saying flags should instead be flown at half-mast to mark “the beginning of British colonisation.”
Mr. Abbott has addressed this call on Twitter:
There are 364 other days a year for the Greens to be politically correct. Why can’t they just accept that Jan 26 is the best available day to celebrate all that’s good about life in Australia.
— Tony Abbott (@TonyAbbottMHR) January 15, 2018
Mr. Abbott’s stance has drawn strong support from within his own conservative coaliton, with Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce saying the Australian government is focused on making the nation stronger, not arguing that “Lachlan Macquarie and Captain Cook were bad buggers.”
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