GABRIELLA POWER, HOST: A new poll shows close to half of all Australia oppose changing the date, but half believe it will shift within the next decade. Joining me live now is Malarndirri McCarthy, Labor Senator for the Northern Territory. Do you believe the date should be changed?
MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY: Gabriella, I'm of the view that what needs to change is attitudes. It doesn't really matter what date we look at for Australia Day and the 26th of January is important on many levels. But what needs to happen is a real understanding of all of the stories of Australia. And that is in particular First Nations people. I think there in Sydney, you have the early morning sunrise smoking ceremony and healing ceremony, which is a really beautiful thing, and that acknowledges the many massacres and atrocities that occurred towards First Nations people, but also acknowledges the unfinished business that we still have to do to bring greater equality.
POWER: So there will be ceremonies held tomorrow. What else do you believe needs to be changed on Australia Day? Are those ceremonies enough?
MCCARTHY: Look, I think it's really about attitudes. I'd just called on all Australians to recognise that we have come a significant way just in this last 12 months in fighting together against COVID-19 and the pandemic that has threatened all of the world in relation to the survival of people. And we've seen the survival of our country. And yes, there have been losses with COVID, and I know those families are still suffering. But then we look at what First Nations people talk about with surviving within this country over the last couple of centuries. I think we can learn from one another here that ultimately we need to still come together to survive as a people of Australia.
POWER: Invasion day protests will be going ahead tomorrow. Do you believe this is the year for it while we're still in a pandemic?
MCCARTHY: Oh, look, I think we are still a democracy, Gabriella. And that was, that's one of the wonderful things about our country. And people should be able to do what they would like to do as their democratic rights, but in a respectful way. I mean, everyone thinks differently about the 26th of January. We've seen what Cricket Australia is going to do. We know there are going to be Invasion Day rallies, Survival Day rallies, but also general barbecues with people who are being sworn in as Australians for the first time. We can do all those things and still hopefully do it in a respectful way.
POWER: The ABC has called Australia Day also Invasion Day in a Twitter post. Do you think that was the right move?
MCCARTHY: Oh, that word Invasion Day is being used right across Twitter, whether it's the ABC or other media outlets or individual groups. Again, as I said, people say the January 26th either as any of those things as Invasion Day, Survival Day, Australia Day. Let's make sure it's a day that we can all wake up the next day and move forward on.
POWER: A new report shows unemployment for Indigenous Australians living in regional and very remote areas is 19 per cent, compared to just seven percent for non-indigenous people. What more should be done to help close this gap?
MCCARTHY: Well, the Community Development Programme, the CDP, is a disgraceful program that runs right across regional and remote Australia and that needs to be abolished and reconsidered in terms of assisting those people who live in those areas. That's around 33,000 people on CDP, Gabriella. And I know that those figures of high unemployment are not a surprise. They've been around for quite a while and the federal government needs to really invest appropriately on the kind of work programmes that should be out there.
POWER: Malarndirri McCarthy, appreciate your time this morning.