Daniel Wild Detailing IPA Research That Shows Strong Majority Of Australians Support January 26 As Australia Day On FiveAA Mornings – 15 January 2024

Written by:
15 January 2024
Daniel Wild Detailing IPA Research That Shows Strong Majority Of Australians Support January 26 As Australia Day On FiveAA Mornings – 15 January 2024 - Featured image

The Institute of Public Affairs’ Daniel Wild joined Matthew Pantelis on FiveAA Mornings to discuss IPA research that shows strong majority of Australians support January 26 as Australia Day.

All media posted onto the IPA website are directly related to the promotion and dissemination of IPA research.

Below is a transcript of the interview.


Matthew Pantelis:

Daniel Wild from the Institute on the line. Daniel, good morning. Thank you for your time.

Daniel Wild:

Morning. Nice to be with you.

Matthew Pantelis:

So 63% of people support January 26th as Australia Day. Has that number changed much?

Daniel Wild:

It’s pretty consistent on last year’s result, Matthew, where it was 62%, so it’s around about two thirds that are backing in the day on the 26th of January, and it goes to your point that only around one in five or fewer than one in five actually want to change the day of Australia Day, and yet it’s that noisy minority that seems to be driving the debate so often. But we know that the majority of mainstream Australians support our National Day because they understand it was the day that modern Australia was formed, and the values that underpin that, democracy, freedom, egalitarianism, tolerance, that we should remember them and celebrate them, and that the 26th of January is the right date on which to do it.

Matthew Pantelis:

I think those values evolved though, didn’t they? I mean, we did start off as essentially being a penal colony.

Daniel Wild:

You’re right, but the foundations go all the way back then to when the rule of law was established, for example, with the famous Kable case that basically gave equal rights to convicts and non-convicts alike, which was unprecedented at the time. So you’re right that it’s evolved, but the foundations started on that day. Now of course, it’s not to say that we shouldn’t study or understand and have a conversation about the blemishes and downsides of our history. As all nations, we’re not perfect, but I believe we’re the best nation on Earth and that we should be celebrating and remembering that, and importantly, that our children at schools are taught a balanced and truthful account of our history so they grow up with pride in our nation.

Matthew Pantelis:

Why do we listen to noisy minorities? Why do they get the running on this?

Daniel Wild:

I think a big part of it is they have a megaphone. We’ve seen that with Woolworth, is the latest example, a big corporate that’s going out of its way to basically cancel Australia Day by stealth or make it much more difficult for Australians who want to celebrate it to do so. So they have a tendency to be able to drive debate and hijack it. I think we saw a bit of that with the Voice debate as well, the Voice to Parliament debate, which was rejected by about two thirds of South Australians, including across every single federal electorate in the state. So there is this noisy minority. They tend to have positions of influence and power, and unfortunately, mainstream Australians are often without a voice, the quiet majority who want to go about their day and believe Australia is a good country. That’s one of the key reasons why we keep having this debate every year.

Matthew Pantelis:

Yeah, yeah, and here we go again. All right, so younger people, I suppose it’s understandable wanting to be progressive and all the rest, but I think as people age, they tend to become more conservative, and looking at some of your breakdowns, it is older people who are very much in favour of leaving the date alone.

Daniel Wild:

That’s right. What’s interesting is that the only age bracket that’s not as enthusiastic about the 26th of January are 18 to 24-year-olds, where 42% want to celebrate it on the 26th, 30% do not, and the rest don’t have an opinion as yet. Once you get to 25 years or up, you’re over 60% immediately. So what’s happening there is you’ve got the younger cohort that have gone through school, some have gone through university or still at university, and I think sometimes are not given a balanced assessment of our history. But when they come into the real world, I think their appreciation of Australia grows. Once you have a job, settle down with a family, buy a house, you sort of get out into the world, you travel a bit more, you really do look at Australia and understand how good we’ve got it here.

Matthew Pantelis:

Yeah.

Daniel Wild:

And as I say, we’re not perfect, but I challenge anyone to answer where else would you rather live. So it’s pretty clear that once younger Australians grow up and get out into the world, their appreciation of our nation grows, and I think that’s very encouraging.

Matthew Pantelis:

Yeah, I think there’s something in that, absolutely, and it does come with experience, but it does point, as you’ve alluded to a couple of times, our education system isn’t what it should be in maintaining the pride in our nation.

Daniel Wild:

No, it’s not, and there’s a couple of things going on there. I mean, as we all know, the results from many schools are going backwards even though we spend more money each and every year. Now, there’s many teachers that are outstanding and many schools that do the right thing, and I think often they’re under-resourced and there’s various pressures, but it’s also clear that there is sometimes sort of an ideological bent by which our history and our culture is taught. We know that littered through the national curriculum, where students are encouraged in many cases to be ashamed of our nation and, therefore, ashamed of themselves.

I don’t think it should be one-sided in the other direction. I just think there should be some balance in saying, “Look, we’ve got some pros and cons in our history, but when it all comes out into the wash, our democracy and our way of life have attracted millions of migrants to our shores.” And let’s not forget, many of them were fleeing things like sectarian conflicts, racial division, poverty, authoritarian governments, and they come to a nation like ours to experience our freedom, to express themselves freely in a democracy, and all of that is absolutely critical to the human condition. And what is clear from this polling is that whilst a strong majority of Australians support Australia Day, if we don’t fight for it and if we don’t pass on our values to our children, we will lose it.

Matthew Pantelis:

Yeah, absolutely.

While I have you, Daniel, the republic issue is in the news today, Nova Peris saying, well, for it to work in the future, and the government ruling out a referendum in the next term, which was their initial position, but Nova Peris saying if it’s going to work, it needs both parties to sit down, agree with it at a convention, agree with a model going forward, and then support a yes case moving through. The Institute done any research on that as to where people stand on a republic?

Daniel Wild:

Look, we haven’t, but there was some polling out over the weekend that I think had at about 52% support. So it’s fairly thin. I’d say it’s about 50-50 out in the community, really. Look, I don’t think Australians want to go through another referendum anytime soon.

Matthew Pantelis:

Yeah, correct.

Daniel Wild:

And you know, I sort of get a bit fed up with this argument that we have to have bipartisanship because that’s sort of a euphemism for not having debate.

Matthew Pantelis:

Yeah.

Daniel Wild:

I think it’s important that there is a debate. We saw that with the Voice to Parliament, and I think it was absolutely critical that as we saw there, as Australians got more details about it, as there was a debate, they were less inclined to support it. Now, whether or not that’s the case with the republic, I don’t know, but what I do know is that our foundations of our constitutional democracy are very strong and stable, and I think only under strenuous circumstances would you want to change that. So any fundamental tinkering with our constitution or our system of government needs to be treated with caution and must be the product of a very strenuous debate rather than what often seems like the political class that want to avoid a debate and push through their preferred model.

Matthew Pantelis:

All right. Daniel, appreciate your time. Thank you.

Daniel Wild:

My pleasure. Thank you.

This transcript from FiveAA Mornings with Matthew Pantelis from 15 January 2024 has been edited for clarity.

Support the IPA

If you liked what you read, consider supporting the IPA. We are entirely funded by individual supporters like you. You can become an IPA member and/or make a tax-deductible donation.