There will no longer be fireworks held on January 26, councillors have decided.
Seven councillors voted to stop holding the event by Lake Wendouree on that day, while two councillors - Des Hudson and Ben Taylor - argued for more community consultation to take place before a final decision was made.
Cr Belinda Coates led the process for change, proposing an alternate motion to the one recommended by officers, who had suggested a decision on fireworks be deferred until more community consultation had taken place.
That key thing of moving the fireworks away from this date would be an incredibly powerful gesture for this council to makeCr Belinda Coates
Cr Coates asked for the motion to be reverted to another option, which would confirm the fireworks moving from January 26. "That key thing of moving the fireworks away from this date would be an incredibly powerful gesture for this council to make," she said.
She argued for supporting the work of the Koorie Engagement Action Group, an advisory committee to the City of Ballarat, which has long advocated for the cancellation of the fireworks.
Her alternate motion was seconded by Cr Mark Harris, who has been a vocal supporter of moving the fireworks away from January 26. He said it was time to "walk the walk" in terms of a message for reconciliation and inclusion. He said he was not against fireworks themselves, adding: "Not on this date - it's not one to celebrate."
The sign of the direction of the debate came when Cr Amy Johnson spoke in favour of Cr Coates' alternate motion.
"If a day causes such heartache and pain and anger, then I absolutely support it being changed," she said.
Cr Hudson then asked if there could be more broad consultation before the decision was made, saying that there were some sectors of the community "who would say we are dancing to the tune of one drum".
Cr Peter Eddy acknowledged Crs Hudson and Taylor's concerns over seeking more community feedback but said: "I think consultation needs to be balanced with leadership."
Cr Tracey Hargreaves, who along with Cr Eddy was making her first appearance as a councillor at an ordinary council meeting, said it was an opportunity to be on the "right side of history". "It seems like an inevitable thing to me that January 26 is going to be treated differently."
The mayor Cr Daniel Moloney, making his debut as the meeting chair, also spoke to the motion. He acknowledged it was unusual for the mayor to speak to items, but said the issue was one he felt very strongly about - and reflected on how moved he had been at the inaugural Survival Day dawn ceremony earlier this year.
He said it would be a "moment of incredible pride" to him if the first decision of council were to move fireworks from that date.
The votes were then cast, showing the majority support for the motion.
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As part of the motion, the City of Ballarat will put on an "intercultural celebration promoting understanding, respect and reconciliation featuring live music and performances" on the date.
The Survival Day Dawn ceremony is still scheduled to take place - although director of community wellbeing Matthew Wilson raised the possibility of the event taking place online depending on COVID-19 restrictions.
Council officers are due to look at alternative dates, including New Year's Eve and the Begonia Festival, to hold fireworks or other celebrations using the $40,000 funds previously spent by the City of Ballarat on the January 26 event.
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