Local Councils, like it or not, have been bought into the debate about the day we celebrate Australia Day by virtue of the fact that Local Councils administer citizenship ceremonies by delegation from Federal Government on that day.
Each council, even if it avoids the debate in the Council chamber, will be rightly judged by its constituency on how they approach this issue in there own communities.
This debate is as such unavoidable despite a prevailing attitude in many Councils across Australia that Local Government should confine itself to local planning, infrastructure and services, a view that personally I would support in most other respects.
Local Government, unfortunate as it may find it, can't realistically hide its complicity in endorsing January 26th.
It must find the courage and the time to allow debate.
The simplistic summary of the issue to me hinges on the self evident insensitivity to first peoples of this country being expected to celebrate the date of European colonisation and the wider community not seeing this as an an affront to civil coexistence.
While for some, especially those first peoples who might see this angst as peripheral to the daily injustice of health and opportunity inequality, it may be a priority I feel its time we confronted the issue and not shelve it for another year.
In the process to consider a new date it will not be inert Local Government, ‘wrapped in the flag’ crazy right or virtue signaling left that make this debate difficult, it will be the increasingly populist centre that avoid internal and external discussion where polls, currently running at 70% against a change of date, dictate positions, not principal.
Simple decency in our relationship to the first peoples is being failed by politics, it's not the domain of left or right, it's simple fairness.
Consideration of a change in date is no assault on our values or on those who have given much to this nation it's just a confirmation that seeking fairness is our most fundamental value.
When I consider the ex-servicemen and women in my own family I have little doubt they fought for a nation with equality and fairness as its best virtues and one that would consider changing the date of our nation day to reflect this.
Cr Mark Harris, Ballarat
The inevitable celebration of thuggishness that occurs on January 26 makes plausible the tales of violence that occurred on the frontier. Likewise the virulence of opposition to any examination of the manner of Australian settlement by Europeans is anything to celebrate. It as though it has struck a raw nerve or is a little too close to the truth for comfort. For many the dispossession remains in living memory; for far too many the consequences continue to bite daily. The inevitable question arises: If Germany had prevailed in WWII how would you and your descendents choose to celebrate the day of their victory?
Pat Hockey, Clunes
Fernery falling off
Ballarat's heritage has always been its gardens, once the Garden City in the Garden State. Ballarat Botanical Gardens once held in highest regard now do not make the regional top 10 in of Australian National Geographic.
The existing fernery in its current condition a stark reminder of what was there and what could be possible. Ballarat's forebears had a grand vision for Ballarat, the original stately fernery was a fine example, the now grand trees which we cherish, were planted with this vision.
Ballarat's fine Heritage, once again Ballarat could be one of Australia's leading Botanical Gardens. Congratulations to the gardens staff for presenting the Botanical Gardens so wonderfully and the visionary Collections Plan to further support the Botanical significance and develop education programs. The fernery remains a very sad reflection. Ballarat's Heritage deserves a worthy significant new development of national importance once more.
Elizabeth Gilfillan, Friends of Ballarat Botanical Gardens Committee