Support for moving date of Australia Day increases

by Ray Clancy on September 15, 2017

in Australia

The future of official events for Australia Day is increasingly in doubt, particularly in Melbourne where yet another councils has voted to abandon the national celebration out of respect for indigenous people.

Australia Day on 26 January commemorates the anniversary of the arrival in 1788 of the first fleet of British ships at Pork Jackson in New South Wales. It is a national holiday when all things Australian are celebrated.

(Ann Muse/Bigstock.com)

The day has official events, such as citizenship ceremonies, and the ubiquitous barbeque and beach picnics are all part of the day of celebrations.

However, more and more councils are voting to ban official celebrations as they believe they ignore the true origins of the country from the perspective of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

In Melbourne Yarra and Darebin councils have already voted to end celebrations on what many indigenous Australians refer to as ‘invasion day’ and now Moreland council in the city has followed suit.

The councils have been heavily criticised by the Federal Government and assistant immigration minister Alex Hawke suggested that such votes are divisive.

‘Australia Day is a recognition of our shared history and the Turnbull Government, along with the vast majority of Australians, indigenous and nonindigenous, fully support Australia Day remaining on January 26,’ he said.

‘Ratepayers of Moreland, who have not been consulted and who did not sign up to dumping Australia Day have every right to feel ashamed and angered by this divisive move. The Turnbull Government remains resolute in its commitment to safeguard the integrity of citizenship ceremonies in Australia and our national day,’ he added.

But a majority of councillors in Moreland voted not just to abandon the official events but also to remove all references to Australia Day on its official literature and website. But it does plan to hold a citizenship ceremony in January 2018.

However, it may not be allowed to continue with citizenship ceremonies as other councils who have abandoned Australia Day have been told by the Government that they have violated the Australian Citizenship Ceremonies Code and have therefore been stripped of their authority to administer citizenship ceremonies.

Hawke said that the future of Moreland’s ability to hold official citizenship ceremonies will be discussed. ‘The Government will consider Moreland Council’s motion and the nature of the public debate and consider further action as appropriate,’ he explained.

Calls to change Australia Day have grown in recent years and resulted in a lot of protests with more councils expected to follow with votes on its future in their areas. The Australian Government insists that a majority of Australians support keeping the event on 26 January. Many more believe that moving the date would be appropriate, thus distancing the event from what some people regard as an invasion.

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