Australia Day: councils consider position

Lake Wendouree fireworks on Australia Day.
Lake Wendouree fireworks on Australia Day.

More Victorian municipalities have considered abandoning Australia Day following Yarra City Council’s move to refer to the date as January 26.

The move resulted in the federal government stripping the council of the right to host citizenship ceremonies.

Hepburn Shire Council was one of three that have previously debated making the change.

The council passed a motion in February to review whether January 26 was the most appropriate date for Australia Day.

It has since been preparing a reconciliation plan, which will go out to public consultation, before it is finally adopted.

Hepburn Shire mayor Sebastian Klein said the draft reconciliation plan would come before council so the community could have their say.

“We are in the middle of it, we are putting the action plan together now with key stakeholders in the community,” he said.

“Reconciliation means listening to each other and looking at things from each other’s point of view.

“For me personally, I try to view it as my grandfather fought in Gallipoli, many others had ancestors who fought and died in wars in Australia, imagine if on Anzac Day – instead of marking it as a memorial and with solemnity – everyone was having party.”

Moreland City Council in Melbourne narrowly voted against a motion to no longer hold citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day.

Fairfax Media has also reported Darebin City Council has surveyed residents for their opinion.

Fremantle City Council backed down on its push to change Australia Day after the federal government threatened to remove its ability to host citizenship ceremonies last year.

Hepburn Shire mayor Sebastian Klein

Hepburn Shire mayor Sebastian Klein

Mr Klein said he did not think it was an issue for Hepburn Shire, and any change to Australia Day did not have to encompass the citizenship ceremony.

“They are not necessarily connected,” he said.

“There are number of days the federal government makes available for citizenship ceremonies.”

The Courier asked Ballarat City councillors for their position on changing the date in June.

Crs Ben Taylor, Jim Rinaldi, Grant Tillet and Des Hudson said they opposed a change.

Two councillors, Belinda Coates and Mark Harris were in favour of a change, while Cr Daniel Moloney said he would back whatever had the popular support of the community.

Cr Coates said council was having discussions with its Koori engagement action group about the issue.

“It is really just about acknowledging the hurt that causes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians,” she said.

“It is not surprising that councils like the City of Yarra are putting forward quite strong motions around what they do on that date, but we do have to look at views broadly.

“There have been discussions with council, it was agreed we need to consult with our community and particularly our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.”

This story Australia Day: councils consider position first appeared on The Advocate - Hepburn.