Politics

A Third Melbourne Council Has Voted To Ditch Its Australia Day Celebrations

That's three in less than a month.

A third Melbourne council has thrown its support behind the #ChangeTheDate campaign by voting to abandon its Australia Day celebrations.

On Wednesday evening, Moreland City Council, which covers inner northern suburbs including Brunswick, Coburg, Fawkner and Pascoe Vale, voted 7-4 in favour of eschewing all references to Australia Day on January 26 – a date which marks the arrival of the First Fleet from England and is considered by many Indigenous people to be a day of mourning.

The move comes several weeks after neighbouring councils in Yarra and Darebin voted to abandon their Australia Day celebrations, much to the annoyance of the federal government.

“Thousands of Australians like me want to celebrate Australia Day – just not on a day that is painful for others,” Councillor Samantha Ratnam told The Age. “We stand with Yarra and Darebin in taking leadership on the change the date campaign. This is a gesture of respect and an important step in healing. It means a lot to many people. Change has to start somewhere and I’m sure other councils will soon follow.”

Ratnam also confirmed that the three councils would now join forces in lobbying the federal government to move the date of the national holiday once and for all.

Unlike Yarra and Darebin, Moreland will still hold citizenship ceremonies on January 26, in keeping with a council vote from earlier in the year. Ironically, that decision may actually make it a little trickier for Canberra to intervene. When Yarra and Darebin voted to move their citizenship ceremonies to another date, assistant immigration minister Alex Hawke responded by stripping them of their right to conduct citizenship ceremonies altogether.

How the government responds to the vote in Moreland remains to be seen.