Labor's Tanya Plibersek unleashed a storm of disapproval on Sunday by suggesting that all Australian school children should pledge loyalty to Australia.
She was speaking at the Opera House just after Prime Minister Scott Morrison led members of the public in Canberra in reciting the pledge that all new citizens are required to make.
The pledge reads: "I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties I respect, and whose laws I will uphold and obey."
Ms Plibersek, Labor's education spokeswoman, said she had always loved the pledge, which was "an elegant expression of what it takes to be a good citizen - of the rights we hold and the responsibilities we owe".
The pledge:— Tanya Plibersek (@tanya_plibersek) January 25, 2020
From this time forward, I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties I respect, and whose laws I will uphold and obey.
She also extolled patriotism, saying patriotism was not about who did or did not count as Australian.
"Patriotism, like mateship, is about solidarity. It's about what we owe each other as citizens ... Patriots don't need to feel superior to feel proud. You can be a progressive and love your country: I certainly do."
But Ms Plibersek's call was greeted with howls on social media, where people lambasted her timing given the anger many people feel over Australia Day, and rejected the suggestion that children should be made to recite a loyalty pledge.
She claimed nothing unremarkable in her words, pointing out that she has been making the call for many years.
Author Jane Caro, who wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald on Sunday that the best Australians are not the quiet ones but the noisy ones, said she hoped her children would be decent, kind and compassionate rather than aligning themselves with "spurious geography".
Did you intentionally wait to call for this on the eve of Invasion Day? Or does the rights and experiences of First Nations people just rank so low on your radar that it didn’t occur to you that this is a particularly garbage time to float what is, IMO, a garbage idea....— Amy Thunig (@AmyThunig) January 25, 2020
Patriotism is the rallying call when your nation is under siege, not when you're riven with discord and disillusion. 'My country right or wrong' doesn't work from the inside.— Shaun Micallef (@shaunmicallef) January 26, 2020