New public holiday on council's agenda - Eureka Day

A THIRD public holiday option has been surprisingly added to a Ballarat City Council consultation plan.

The Monday closest to December 3, or a Eureka Day, will join Ballarat Show Day and Melbourne Cup Day for consideration under the Ballarat Public Holiday Consultation and Engagement Plan adopted at last night’s council meeting.

Ballarat Trades and Labor Council president Brett Edgington asked the council to consider the December date to mark the birth of Australian democracy.

“How do we expect the nation to celebrate with us until Ballarat can recognise Eureka with a public holiday?” Mr Edgington said.

“This decision could be the genesis of marking Eureka as the truly significant national event that it is – the spark of our nation’s democracy, the true Australia Day where our nation divested itself of colonial rule and determined its own destiny.”

Mr Edgington also asked if further public consultation was needed when an extensive report was carried out in 2010, including a web poll which showed 60 per cent of respondents wanted Ballarat Show Day compared to just 6.85 per cent who wanted Melbourne Cup Day.

However, in moving the plan be adopted, Councillor Joshua Morris said the council had the responsibility to make sure it heard from all the stakeholders.

He also said the move of Ballarat Cup Day, which was included in the 2010 consultation process, to a weekend meant new surveys had to be carried out.

“I would also like council to set the public holiday for the next four years to give everyone in the community certainty,” Cr Morris said. 

Cr Amy Johnson said it was very important to provide the community with the opportunity to have input.

“I don’t consider consulting the community to be passing the buck,” Cr Johnson said.

“As a council, we need to make a decision and stick to that decision for the next four years. 

“The community is sick of this debate coming up every year.”

Cr Des Hudson said it was refreshing to get a third option of a Eureka Day.

“It’s a fresh and exciting opportunity to engage with the community,” Cr Hudson said.

But Cr Samantha McIntosh, who was acting mayor in Cr John Burt’s absence, disagreed.

“There has been extensive consultation carried out by the previous council,” Cr McIntosh said.

“It is important we are responsible and understand the financial cost over these sort of processes. We can’t ignore the works that have been undertaken.”

The plan’s adoption was carried six to one.

fiona.henderson@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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