Politics

The Government Is Punishing Anyone Who Wants To #ChangeTheDate Of Australia Day

The government has stripped two councils of the power to hold citizenship ceremonies after they passed motions supporting the #ChangeTheDate campaign.

The federal government has stripped Melbourne’s Darebin council of the right to perform citizenship ceremonies after councillors voted to no longer celebrate Australia Day on January 26.

Last night the council voted 6-2 in favour of a motion that acknowledged “January 26 marks the beginning of the British invasion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lands and oppression of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and is therefore not an appropriate date for an inclusive national celebration”. The motion also called on the council to lobby the federal government to change the date of Australia Day.

This afternoon the assistant minister for immigration and border protection, Alex Hawke, announced he had stripped Darebin council of the right to perform citizenship ceremonies in response to their decision.

Last week Hawke stripped another Melbourne council, Yarra, of its right to perform citizenship ceremonies after it passed a similar motion supporting the #ChangeTheDate campaign.

“Both Darebin and Yarra Councils have had their ability to conduct citizenship ceremonies revoked,” Hawke said. “They were warned well in advance that politicising¬†citizenship ceremonies would not be tolerated.”

As a result of the federal government’s decision, potential citizens residing in the Darebin and Yarra council areas will be allocated to citizenship ceremonies in neighbouring council areas.

Support For Changing The Date Is Spreading

Earlier this year the National General Assembly of Local Government, the peak body representing local councils, passed a motion calling on councils to lobby the federal government to change the date of Australia Day.

The motion suggests that despite the federal government’s heavy-handed approach, a number of councils could be in line to pass similar motions to Darebin and Yarra in the near-future.

The Greens MP for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, announced last week that he would use his authority as a federal politician to hold citizenship ceremonies in Yarra, now that the council had been stripped of its power.

However Hawke has dismissed the suggestion Greens MPs could hold their own ceremonies, claiming that they can only be undertaken “with the government’s authorisation and assistance”.

“The Greens political party will not be allowed to hijack Australia Day through a small group of Greens controlled local councils,” Hawke said. “The overwhelming majority of Australians support Australia Day remaining on January 26.”

Feature image via Kim Le Cerf/Facebook