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The ABC Divides Opinion After Referring To January 26 As Invasion Day

The ABC Divides Opinion After Referring To January 26 As Invasion Day

The national broadcaster says it would be 'inappropriate' if they only called it Australia Day.

Stewart Perrie

Stewart Perrie

The ABC has divided opinion after referring to tomorrow (January 26) as Invasion Day.

The national broadcaster has explained to reporters and writers that they will be allowed to use that term in their reporting, as well as Australia Day and January 26.

Because people in the community use it to refer to the annual public holiday, the ABC said it would be 'inappropriate' to only use Australia Day.

People were shocked and surprised when the broadcaster uploaded an article with the headline 'Australia Day/Invasion Day 2021 events for Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin'.

It was instantly hit with comments from people suggesting the ABC was needlessly trying to stoke enragement.

The ABC has since issued an editorial note on its website that goes into further detail why the Invasion Day and Australia Day terms will be used interchangeably.

It starts by saying the public holiday is legislatively referred to differently in each state and territory. New South Wales calls it Australia Day, while South Australia labels it 26 January.

"Legislative use is one perspective," the ABC explains. "By way of contrast, government websites listing public holidays tend to use 'Australia Day' in first reference, regardless of what the holiday is called in the relevant Act.

"It is important to note, though, that both the Macquarie and the Australian Concise Oxford dictionaries list 'Survival Day' and 'Invasion Day' as roughly synonymous with 'Australia Day', either as 'viewed by Indigenous people and their supporters' (Macquarie).


"Both terms have a long history of use in this country: the Australian National Dictionary dates both to the 1980s. A precursor for both terms would be the 1938 announcement by Indigenous groups that January 26 - not then a national public holiday - be known as a Day of Mourning and Protest."

The ABC added that because there are multiple ways of describing the day, it would only be fitting that they would reflect that in their reporting.

They insist that 'Australia Day' is the default for describing events or feelings around January 26, however staff are allowed to use other accepted terms 'at their discretion'.

Federal Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said they aren't allowed to meddle with the editorial policies of the ABC.

"The Morrison government's position on Australia Day is very clear," Mr Fletcher said.

"The position taken by the ABC is a matter for which the ABC must take accountability, as the ABC, by statute, has editorial independence from government."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Australia