Call for unity as city braces for huge protest
Queensland's political leaders have called for unity this Australia Day as Brisbane prepares for the largest 'Invasion Day protest in history.
Thousands of people are tipped to march through the city on Tuesday in protest of historic injustices against Aboriginal people.
The protest has been declared a COVID-safe event, however, Queensland Police have urged people not to attend due to the risk of COVID-19.
"If people do attend, they are urged to ensure they comply with the Chief Health Officer's directions in relation to COVID-19," a police spokeswoman said.
"The QPS continues to educate and show compassion when engaging with members of the public however police will take enforcement action when people blatantly disregard the CHO's directives."
Rallying speeches will begin outside Treasury Casino from 10am before thousands of people march to Musgrave Park at South Brisbane.
It comes as debate about Australia Day continues to rage.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will continue her five-year tradition of spending Australia Day in Townsville.
A spokeswoman for the Premier said she considered January 26 a day of celebration.
"As the Premier has said in recent years, as long as we acknowledge and recognise the past, Australia Day is a day to celebrate our nation and what it means to be Australian," the spokeswoman said.
Opposition Leader David Crisafulli said Australia Day was a chance to celebrate "what makes us the best country in the world".
"(We're) a country that's got the longest-running continuous culture, a country that's got a mixture of diversity where people can come here with nothing and work hard and be rewarded for it."
North Stradbroke Island Aboriginal elder Mark Jones supported shifting Australia Day.
Mr Jones, a tourism business owner, said a symbolic date change must be followed with systemic action.
"I know there are issues there about why it's Australia Day and why it shouldn't be but it's not just the day, it's the system," he said.
"We need to address systemic issues facing Aboriginal people and decisions which date right back to Mabo."
Education Minister Grace Grace said Queenslanders should have a "good discussion" to ensure Australia Day was "inclusive of everyone" and urged CBD protesters to comply with COVID-safe protocols.
"Quite clearly whatever occurs in that area we want everyone to act in a very COVID-safe manner, and ensure that they keep themselves safe and that they don't put anybody's lives at risk by spreading COVID-19," she said.
Organisers say Brisbane's anti-Australia Day protest is growing each year, and tip this year's turnout could be the largest on record after 'insulting' comments made by Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week.
Originally published as Call for unity as Brisbane braces for huge protest