Labor Leader Anthony Albanese has urged Australians to acknowledge the "brutality" of the country's colonisation, using an Australia Day address to renew his call for constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison used his speech in Canberra to urge Australians to a life of service, saying his father, who died last week, had taught him that "life is what you contribute, not what you accumulate".
"The best lives stem from making a contribution, rather than taking one," Mr Morrison said, framing the bush fires as a story of "struggle and overcoming, courage and perseverance and a willingness to fight until the sun rises".
Mr Morrison said the strength of Australians was not "negative or exclusive tribalism" but believing in something greater than themselves and remaining hopeful.
He announced that people who have helped fight the bush fires would be eligible for the National Emergency Medal, which was established in 2011 and has gone to emergency personnel in disasters since. It would go to "emergency responders who have given sustained or significant service", he said, with criteria to be worked out in coming months.
Mr Albanese's speech was harder hitting. Australia must not pretend its history began on January 26, 1788, when the British flag was raised in NSW.
On that day "a series of collisions was set in train", he said.
"There would be fear and courage, arrogance and humility, the failure of communication, the tragic triumph of brutality. Desperation, resistance, loss," he said in a speech prepared for delivery in the Blue Mountains.
"As a new society slowly and unsteadily rose to its feet, a mosaic of ancient societies was brought to its knees."
He called for progress on truth-telling, constitutional recognition, a voice to parliament, and agreements with Indigenous groups.
Mr Albanese identified toughness, resilience, generosity and a sense of humour as the values celebrated on Australia Day.
"Invasion Day" and "Survival Day" protests were held around the country, including in Canberra, where a group marched over Commonwealth Bridge to Parliament House calling for land rights.
At the start of the day Mr Morrison laid a wreath at the national emergency services memorial in Canberra with his daughters.
Today Abbey & Lily joined me to lay a wreath at our National Emergency Services Memorial to thank all those giving so much in response to the terrible natural disasters that have impacted our nation. We also remember the brave firefighters who lost their lives fighting the fires. pic.twitter.com/S8zBrDfUt8— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) January 26, 2020