Australians have ‘risen above our brutal beginnings’, PM says

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says there is no escaping or cancelling Australia’s history and January 26 represents the day the land “changed forever”.

Mr Morrison used an address to an official Australia Day ceremony in Canberra on Tuesday to say it was a day to reflect on that journey and the price that has been paid for freedom.

Scott Morrison says it is Australian to “be optimistic and look forward”. Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

As thousands attended rallies in capital cities, including at Parliament House in Canberra, calling for the date to be changed, Mr Morrison said Australians had “risen above our brutal beginnings”.

“We have overcome, survived and thrived,” he said. “We have learned but yet we are still learning. And as the many peoples of the world joined our journey, we have become even stronger.

“The most successful and cohesive immigration and multicultural nation on earth. The home of the world’s oldest living human culture.”

Mr Morrison said for better and worse, January 26, 1788 was the moment where “the journey to our modern Australia began”.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese during the flag raising and citizenship ceremony in Canberra. Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Mr Albanese said Australia needed to work out how to avoid the divisive debate that occurred every January.

He said January 26 could be a future date for a successful vote for constitutional recognition of First Australians.

“For the First Australians, you can understand that this is a very difficult day for them. It is one of heartache and one in which they recognise what occurred to their people,” he said.

Greens leader Adam Bandt, attending an Invasion Day rally in Melbourne, said there was “unstoppable momentum” to tell the truth about the violence, murder and dispossession that was part of the foundation of Australia.

“We must be honest about the past and march towards a treaty,” Mr Bandt said.

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