It won’t change: coun­cil­lors ● ‘PM for stan­dards’ bans thongs at cer­e­monies,

COUN­CIL SAYS IT IS COM­MIT­TED TO KEEP­ING CIT­I­ZEN­SHIP CER­E­MONIES ON AUS­TRALIA DAY

Shepparton News - - NEWS - By Thomas Moir

The City of Greater Shep­par­ton ap­pears to be com­mit­ted to con­tinue host­ing cit­i­zen­ship cer­e­monies on Aus­tralia Day, as two coun­cil­lors say they have not heard any dis­cus­sion to sug­gest other­wise.

This comes as coun­cils will be forced to or­gan­ise cit­i­zen­ship cer­e­monies on Aus­tralia Day in a Mor­ri­son gov­ern­ment move aimed at lock­ing in Jan­uary 26 as the na­tional day.

‘‘New cit­i­zens should be given the op­por­tu­nity to be­come an Aus­tralian on our na­tional day,’’ Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter David Cole­man said.

‘‘While most coun­cils al­ready hold cit­i­zen­ship cer­e­monies on Aus­tralia Day, be­com­ing an Aus­tralian on our na­tional day is a great priv­i­lege and I want more peo­ple to have that op­por­tu­nity.’’

At a re­gional level, coun­cil­lor and Eth­nic Coun­cil of Shep­par­ton man­ager Chris Hazel­man said the city had tra­di­tion­ally had cit­i­zen­ship cer­e­monies on Jan­uary 26.

‘‘For such a cul­tur­ally di­verse com­mu­nity as ours, it’s been a high­light,’’ Cr Hazel­man said.

‘‘The look of joy of those be­com­ing cit­i­zens, it’s fan­tas­tic . . . it’s part of the day.’’

Cr Hazel­man said he un­der­stood the ac­tive move away from Aus­tralia Day in other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, but said that was an­other en­tirely dif­fer­ent de­bate.

‘‘I haven’t seen any dis­cus­sion or ini­tia­tive to make changes at a lo­cal level here,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve seen no push, sug­ges­tion or ini­tia­tive to say we should do some­thing dif­fer­ent.’’

Un­der changes to the Aus­tralian Cit­i­zen­ship Cer­e­monies Code to be in­tro­duced in the first half of this year, coun­cils must host a sec­ond cit­i­zen­ship cer­e­mony on Septem­ber 17 — Aus­tralian Cit­i­zen­ship Day.

Forc­ing coun­cils to have the cer­e­monies on Aus­tralia Day comes af­ter a hand­ful of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties voted to move cit­i­zen­ship events out of re­spect for indige­nous peo­ple.

‘‘If some coun­cils as we’ve seen want to play games, well, you don’t have to run cit­i­zen­ship cer­e­monies, other ar­range­ments will be made,’’ Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son said.

‘‘But we will not un­der­mine Aus­tralia’s na­tional day.’’

Cr Hazel­man be­lieved the move had the po­ten­tial to gen­er­ate fur­ther divi­sion around the na­tion’s na­tional day, ar­gu­ing it could ‘‘po­larise views’’ and ‘‘bring out of the wood­work those who have an axe to grind about Aus­tralia Day’’.

Act­ing Vic­to­rian Premier James Mer­lino said: ‘‘I think this is more to do with the fed­eral elec­tion than with the Mor­ri­son gov­ern­ment re­spect­ing our coun­try.’’

A strict dress code for cer­e­monies will also be in­tro­duced banning board shorts and thongs.

‘‘I'm a prime min­is­ter for stan­dards,’’ Mr Mor­ri­son said.

Mayor Kim O’Ke­effe echoed that the coun­cil was set to con­tinue to have Aus­tralia Day cit­i­zen­ship cer­e­monies.

‘‘We will con­tinue to do what we’ve been do­ing,’’ Cr O’Ke­effe said.

‘‘We have a lot of peo­ple who come to our (Aus­tralia Day) cer­e­mony day.

‘‘The fo­cus is to con­tinue to be united.’’

How­ever, Cr O’Ke­effe said she did not see dress code at cit­i­zen­ship cer­e­monies as an is­sue.

‘‘We’ve never had any is­sues,’’ she said.

She said whether host­ing cer­e­monies on the night be­fore or the day fol­low­ing Jan­uary 26, it re­mained close and was as such con­nected to Aus­tralia Day.

‘‘To me, it’s just pulling it apart across that date,’’ she said.

CAN­BERRA: Scott Mor­ri­son has re­buffed Bill Shorten’s claim the gov­ern­ment is politi­cis­ing Aus­tralia Day with a plan to force coun­cils to have cit­i­zen­ship cer­e­monies on Jan­uary 26.

The prime min­is­ter hit back at the La­bor leader for not im­me­di­ately back­ing the move, which he says is com­mon sense.

‘‘I think Bill Shorten is hav­ing a cop-out on this,’’ Mr Mor­ri­son said in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory.

Forc­ing coun­cils to have the cer­e­monies on Aus­tralia Day comes af­ter a hand­ful of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties voted to move cit­i­zen­ship events out of re­spect for indige­nous peo­ple.

‘‘If some coun­cils as we’ve seen want to play games, well, you don’t have to run cit­i­zen­ship cer­e­monies, other ar­range­ments will be made,’’ the prime min­is­ter said.

‘‘But we will not un­der­mine Aus­tralia’s na­tional day.’’

A strict dress code for cer­e­monies will also be in­tro­duced banning board shorts and thongs.

‘‘I’m a prime min­is­ter for stan­dards,’’ Mr Mor­ri­son said.

With Aus­tralia Day less than two weeks away, na­tional de­bate is again set to flare on the most ap­pro­pri­ate date.

La­bor leader Bill Shorten said he did not rule out sup­port­ing the plan, but guar­an­teed he would keep the pub­lic hol­i­day if in gov­ern­ment.

‘‘You sort of know when Aus­tralia Day’s com­ing up don’t you, when a cou­ple of weeks be­fore we get the an­nual con­ser­va­tive out­ing to put pol­i­tics into Aus­tralia Day,’’ Mr Shorten said yes­ter­day.

‘‘It’s what the con­ser­va­tives do to keep their base happy.’’

Un­der changes to the Aus­tralian Cit­i­zen­ship Cer­e­monies Code to be in­tro­duced in the first half of this year, coun­cils must have a sec­ond cit­i­zen­ship cer­e­mony on Septem­ber 17 — Aus­tralian Cit­i­zen­ship Day.

Aus­tralian Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent David O’Lough­lin said some coun­cils had events the night be­fore be­cause of heat.

‘‘The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s strong fo­cus on draw­ing a link be­tween Aus­tralia Day and cit­i­zen­ship cer­e­monies is bizarre,’’ Cr O’Lough­lin said.

Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter David Cole­man said the move would en­sure ev­ery per­son be­ing given cit­i­zen­ship had the chance to do so on Jan­uary 26.

‘‘Coun­cils will no longer be able to say no to Aus­tralia Day,’’ Mr Cole­man said.

NSW Premier Gla­dys Bere­jik­lian said Jan­uary 26 was the nat­u­ral day for cer­e­monies to be staged.

But act­ing Vic­to­rian Premier James Mer­lino was more scep­ti­cal.

‘‘I think this is more to do with the fed­eral elec­tion than with the Mor­ri­son gov­ern­ment re­spect­ing our coun­try,’’ Mr Mer­lino said.

Pic­ture: AAP/Michael Franchi

Aus­tralia Day rules: Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory yes­ter­day.

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