The celebration of Australia Day is safe in Indigo Shire after mayor Jenny O’Connor ruled out following the lead of her Greens colleagues in Melbourne to stop referring to January 26 as the national holiday.
Yarra councillors created a stir this week when they unanimously voted to no longer recognise Australia’s national day and cease holding citizenship ceremonies on January 26.
“There’s been no discussion (at Indigo Council) of changing the date at this stage,” Cr O’Connor said.
“If it was raised, it’s something that we’d have to discuss, but I don’t see that there’s an appetite for it at the moment.”
There’s been no discussion of changing the date at this stage.Indigo Council mayor Jenny O'Connor
Councils were put on notice this week when Assistant Minister for Immigration Alex Hawke sent a letter to municipalities across the country warning that if they stopped complying with the Australian Citizenship Ceremonies Code, they would lose their hosting rights.
In a statement, he referred to “Greens-dominated councils” using citizenship ceremonies to lobby against Australia Day on January 26.
“This is a decision for that municipality, often the inner urban municipalities are more progressive,” Cr O’Connor said.
“It's not just Greens voters that are concerned about indigenous residents and the impacts its had.”
She said Indigo Shire’s Australia Day ceremonies always acknowledged the indigenous community on the day, as it was important to understand the effect white settlement had on that community.
“I've really noticed that people across the political spectrum see that for indigenous people, it does mean something very different,” she said.
“It's something we’re very mindful of on Australia Day, more than we were when I was a kid.”
Politicians have criticised Yarra Council’s decision.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews told the ABC Australia Day citizenship ceremonies were “a magical thing” and Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said Yarra’s “councillors are using it to drive a wedge through our community”.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull raised the issue during a special statement in federal Parliament, saying: “To change the date of Australia Day would be to turn our backs on our Australian values, on the great achievement of 24 million Australians,” he said.