Albury says Australia Day ambassador isn’t needed

Albury mayor Kevin Mack
Albury mayor Kevin Mack

AN Australia Day ambassador has been dumped from the Albury celebrations this year.

The role has previously been performed by Australian achievers including tennis legend Margaret Court and youth homelessness campaigner Father Chris Riley.

But there will be no such ambassador on the program at Noreuil Park on Sunday.

Mayor Kevin Mack confirmed the non-appearance of an Australia Day Council of NSW ambassador last night, with the focus of a revised format being on locals.

“At the end of the day, our residents are our best ambassadors,” he said.

“This year’s program is especially full and given the short timeframe for the event we felt that 2014 would be an opportunity to explore a revised format.

“We’re offering a fantastic program of activities and brilliant entertainment.

“We’re looking forward to residents joining us to help celebrate Australia Day.”

NSW was the first state to introduce Australia Day ambassadors in 1990 with the late Bill Peach being one of Albury’s earliest ambassadors in 1994.

Six years later they began appearing in Victoria and by 2008 the program went national.

The ambassadors volunteer their time to appear at celebrations in a program supported by Woolworths.

Their roles are varied and have included judging pie-eating contests, presenting community awards or citizenship certificates or cooking a barbecue.

They also give an address capturing the spirit of being Australian.

Wodonga Council will have Marion Lau, deputy chair of the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria as its ambassador, and Greater Hume has country music star Amber Lawrence at Burrumbuttock.

Other recent ambassadors to come to Albury include Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation founder Mary-Ruth Mendel, Dungog Film Festival co-founder Allanah Zitserman and Olympic swimmer Brooke Hanson.

Albury’s program from 10am includes a citizenship ceremony and citizen of the year awards.