Federal government frontbencher Ken Wyatt says Australia Day should remain on January 26 but commemorations around the country should mark both the "good and the bad" of the nation's history.
Mr Wyatt, the first indigenous man to be minister for indigenous Australians, told Nine newspapers "dark beginnings" must be recognised in communities across the country.
But this should not overshadow celebrations of what he sees as a "remarkable" multicultural country Australia has become.
"We can have anger at the past, the pain and the hurt ... but at some point we've got to give our children a better future," Mr Wyatt said.
"It's not about (Captain Arthur) Phillip landing in Sydney. It's about the way we've grown firstly into a federation, but ... a country of incredible people."
He said of instead rallying to move the date, Australians must engage in a new generation of "truth telling".
Mr Wyatt has previously floated the idea of changing the date of Australia Day to the day the country becomes a republic.
"I think it is inevitable that we will become a republic," the Liberal MP said two years ago when he was minister for aged care.
Australian of the Year nominee and women's sport advocate Katrina Fanning said the date of Australia Day is "problematic".
Ms Fanning, who has an Aboriginal background, believes the Australia Day Council has made great progress.
"I think it is how we define celebrating Australia," she told AAP before heading into a "finalists luncheon" at the National Gallery in Canberra.
She said part of the morning has been carved out to talk about the nation's shared history.
"To tell the truth about that, because it is a hard story to tell," she said.
Another contender for Australian of the Year, indigenous singer-songwriter Archie Roach, said older people in particular are not happy with the date.
"We really want to be included, we really want to participate in the Australia Day celebrations and some feel we cannot because of the date," he told AAP.
He said it is an ongoing conversation Australia must have so "we can celebrate as one people".
Australian Associated Press