Third council to dump Australia Day celebrations

Published: 14 September 2017


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

Councillors voted Wednesday night to drop any reference to Australia Day and committed to campaigning nationally to change the date from January 26.

Moreland now joins Yarra and Darebin councils in abandoning references to Australia’s national day.

However, the council also voted to continue hosting citizenship ceremonies on January 26.

The council’s motion, which passed seven votes to four, states the council believes January 26 is not an appropriate date for national celebration, as it marks the beginning of the ‘British invasion’ and the ‘oppression of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.’

The motion was proposed by Greens councillor and deputy mayor Samantha Ratnam.

“Thousands of Australians like me want to celebrate Australia Day, just not on a day that’s so painful for others,” she told the Wednesday night meeting.

Socialist Alliance councillor Sur Bolton said hosting ceremonies on that date was ‘absolutely reprehensible to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Celebrating that date would be like celebrating the Nazi holocaust as Germany Day,” she wrote on Facebook.

Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Alex Hawke released a statement condemning the council and its ‘divisive move.’

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

“Already we have stripped councils of the right to administer citizenship where they have violated the Australian Citizenship Ceremonies Code.”

“The government will consider [the] Moreland motion, and the nature of the public debate and consider further action as appropriate.”

The government last month removed Yarra and Darebin councils’ right to host citizenship ceremonies after they both voted to move them from January 26.

Moreland City Council says it will now host a ‘culturally appropriate’ event to be decided by the Moreland Reconciliation Working Group.