Second Vic council enters Aust Day debate

A second Melbourne council is set the delve into the Australia Day debacle started by Yarra, holding a vote next week on the future of the national day for its residents.


Darebin City Council, in Melbourne’s north, added urgent business to its Monday meeting schedule, with councillors to decide how the council will commemorate Australia Day from 2018 onwards.

The council will consider either keeping January 26 unchanged and adding an advocacy campaign, or hold its citizenship ceremonies on the eve of Australia Day.

“Should Council want to take further actions regarding Australia Day events in Darebin, a strong and confirmed position through Council resolution will be required,” it said in its Australia Day briefing for Monday’s meeting.

The move follows action by Yarra City Council on Tuesday, which voted to stop referring to January 26 as Australia Day and ceasing its citizenship ceremonies on that day.

That resulted in the federal government on Wednesday banning them from performing any citizenship ceremonies at any time of year.

Assistant Minister for Immigration Alex Hawke was due to speak with Yarra City mayor Amanda Stone about the ban on Friday, but they were yet to have discussions by the end of the working week.

The government has hinted Yarra City Council could reclaim its power to host citizenship ceremonies if it reverses its controversial decision.

The minister has accused the council of politicising Australia Day and was outraged by the vote by councillors, warning such a move would be in breach of the Australian Citizenship Ceremonies code.

Darebin Council said it recognised there was a significant risk in adopting its second option to not hold ceremonies on Australia Day in light of Mr Hawkes’ ban for Yarra.

“Option Two in this report presents a serious and significant risk to Council and may be deemed to be an action that is politicising citizenship ceremonies and therefore a breach of the Code,” the briefing said.

Darebin will debate its options at a meeting on Monday night.