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It's Australia Day, Mate

  • Published at 06:48 pm January 25th, 2018
It's Australia Day, Mate
January 26 is ‘Australia Day’, the official National Day of Australia. Celebrated annually, the day marks the arrival of the first fleet of British ships. On that day in 1788 the first fleet, called the ‘First Fleet’ reached what is now Port Jack in New South Wales and raised the flag of Great Britain.

A day of inclusion

The meaning and significance of the day has evolved and it is no longer a mere celebration of arrival of that fleet, which is a clear and apparently well-intentioned attempt to distance the celebration from a commemoration of the settlement. Now, it is seen and observed as a day of coming together of all Australians, regardless of personal backgrounds. “On Australia Day we celebrate all the things we love about Australia: land, sense of fair go, lifestyle, democracy, the freedoms we enjoy but particularly our people,” The National Australia Day Council’s (NADC) description reads. NADC is a government owned organization that is tasked specifically to facilitate the celebration of Australia Day and being Australian, and recognize inspirational Australians through the Australian of the Year Awards. The effort to make the National Day about all people is visible in the way the celebration is promoted. The government promotes the day as an opportunity to acknowledge all Australian that make up the contemporary nation, starting from “the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who have been here for more than 65,000 years - to those who have lived here for generations, to those who have come from all corners of the globe to call our country home.” Australia has been continuously praised by leading human rights organizations for being a "vibrant multicultural democracy with a strong record of protecting civil and political rights," as Human Rights Watch put it in its 2017 annual report. That’s why it makes perfect sense that the nation would want to make its National Day inclusive and about celebrating diversity.

Historical grievance

The effort to celebrate the day as a unifying event, its detractors feel, is a convenient attempt to sugar coat troublesome history. Some of those who oppose it, have advocated moving the day to a different date and fully detaching it from an event which the native Australians cannot accept as celebration-worthy. In 1938 the celebration was countered by a ‘Day of Mourning’. 50 years later in 1988 Aboriginal people observed ‘Invasion Day’ in Sydney on the 26th. The push for changing the date is still going on and the subject occupied headlines in Australia in every January for the past few years. The assistant immigration minister, Alex Hawke said last week, on January 16, 2018, that he has not heard a “reasonable argument” to support changing the date of Australia Day, The Guardian reports. The ongoing demand also propelled Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to say that he was “disappointed by those who want to change the date of Australia Day.” Prime Minister Turnbull thinks that doing so is tantamount to “denying" history.
The bilateral relationship has strengthened after 9/11 when Australia stood as one of the most preferred choices for Bangladeshi students to go to

Bangladesh Australia relations

Australia was among the first countries in the world to recognize Bangladesh after the country's independence in 1971. It continues to be a very important partner nation for Bangladesh. “Australia is a significant trading and development partner of Bangladesh. There is a significant number of Bangladeshis live in Australia, where migration began from 1970s. Bangladeshis were counted separately in Australian census since 1976. The bilateral relationship has strengthened after 9/11 when Australia stood as one of the most preferred choices for Bangladeshi students to go to. A number of Australian scholarships also provide a significant opportunity for civil servants as well as the intellectual community to study in Australia. This has been one of the avenues for Australia to develop its soft power in Bangladesh,” said Professor Lailufar Yasmin, PhD, of Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka. Commenting on what is the most important aspect in Bangladesh-Australia relations, Professor Yasmin said that trade and access to higher studies and skilled migration to Australia are two important aspects from Bangladesh’s perspective. “Since Australia granted duty-free access for Bangladeshi goods to its market, the bilateral trade has grown significantly and now amounts to around AUD1 billion with Bangladesh’s exports amounting to AUD450 million,” she said. “There is also a presence of a significant Bangladeshi community in Sydney primarily and some in Melbourne, Canberra and other regional capitals. With the relaxation of Australian visa procedure and increased surveillance in obtaining a US student visa, a large number of migration to Australia took place in early 2000. For Australia, tackling illegal migration from Bangladesh is a priority and successive visiting Australian government high officials have stressed on this matter,” Professor Yasmin added.