Third council to dump Australia Day celebrations

Elias Hubbard
September 14, 2017

But it is termed "Invasion Day" by many indigenous Australians who say it marks the beginning of the decline of Aboriginal culture.

Melbourne's Moreland City Council has voted to scrap official Australia Day celebrations, comparing the practice to "celebrating the Nazi holocaust."

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A local authority in Melbourne has become the latest to abandon Australia's national day, with one of its councillors saying that celebrating the arrival of British settlers is akin to honouring the Holocaust.

Councillor Sue Bolton said during the meeting January 26 "led to the beginning of a Holocaust", a statement which was met with condemnation from the country's government.

But not all councillors voted in favor of the change; councillor John Kavanagh said Australia Day could be "an opportunity with the Aboriginal welcome on that day for the oldest Australians to inform the newest Australians of the plight and the difficulties that day has for them and their history".

The Federal government had stripped the other two outlying councils of their right to hold citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day.

"The Turnbull Government strongly condemns comparisons of Australia Day with the Nazi Holocaust as deeply offensive to all Australians", he said.

Assistant Minister for Immigration Alex Hawke said in a statement the government rejected "the extreme and divisive nature of the discussion Greens and Socialist councillors are promoting".

"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".

Following the lead of the city of Fremantle and two other Melbourne councils, Yarra and Darebin, Moreland City Council has made a decision to stop festivities on January 26.

"The government will consider (the) Moreland motion, and the nature of the public debate and consider further action as appropriate".

Greens councillor and deputy mayor Samantha Ratnam told the meeting the decision was not about erasing history but acknowledging all of Australia's past.

"I have no doubt that the federal government will now exercise incredible overreach and try and intimidate the City of Moreland out of this decision. We are all Australians here. whether we be indigenous or non-indigenous", said Wurundjeri elder Ian Hunter.

Moreland in 2015 moved its annual citizen awards ceremony to October.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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