Australia Day 2018: time for conversation about January 26

AUSTRALIA Day in Tamworth was much like every other day in the past week.

2018 young citizen of the year Georgia Taggart

2018 young citizen of the year Georgia Taggart

Music in the streets, revelry in the pubs and a stickiness in the air.

The tension in the lead up to January 26, 2018 has been palpable, materialising in countless op-eds and acts around the country.

Meanwhile, Tamworth has been brimming with all the festival trimmings.

The country music festival brings in an inexorable influx of visitors from all corners of the country and some corners of the world.

But in many towns around the region, there was a distinctly global feel to the formal ceremonies on the national day with the naturalisation of a raft of new citizens, united in Australia.

Former Tamworth citizen of the year, Mal MacPherson, said seeing new citizens sworn-in was a highlight of the role, seeing people feel wanted and appreciated in their new home.

“When they take the oath, they’re not just paying lip service,” he said.

For some, taking an Australian citizenship is the realisation of new hope and opportunity.

One of Tamworth’s newest Aussies said her new home shared the temperature and temperament of her native Botswana.

“It’s just a free country with beautiful people,” she said of Australia.

Australia is the envy of many countries, but there remains a sense of division within our home.

A division so distinct our eminent youngster and a former nurse of 45 years felt the need to call for unity.

“To me, it doesn’t matter if you’re from a different country, culture, religious beliefs, we’re one,” young citizen of the year Georgia Taggart said.

“We’re Australian.”

With a bit more life experience, citizen of the year Suzanne Turner made a similar call.

“We’ve just got to be thankful that we’re such a peaceful country and that we’ve never had a civil war,” she said.

“That’s the problem with society, they don’t open the blind in the morning and look for their blessings, they’re everywhere.”

The festival will abate and so will the tension about January 26 in Australia.

Both, however, will return.

The goal for the future is certain, a conversation will be essential to determine a way out of the division.

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