PM en­forces Aus­tralia Day Rogue coun­cils to lose rights for ci­ti­zen­ship cer­e­monies

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - NEWS - AN­NIKA SMETHURST

NATIONAL PO­LIT­I­CAL EDI­TOR FROM next year, ev­ery lo­cal council in the coun­try will be forced to hold ci­ti­zen­ship cer­e­monies on Aus­tralia Day, as the Mor­ri­son Gov­ern­ment also makes good on its threat to strip rogue coun­cils of their cer­e­mo­nial rights.

In a move de­signed to fur­ther en­trench Jan­uary 26 as our national day, the Gov­ern­ment has re­vised the ci­ti­zen­ship code, mak­ing it com­pul­sory for all 537 coun­cils to hold ci­ti­zen­ship cer­e­monies on Aus­tralia Day.

Gear­ing up for an elec­tionyear fight against the Greens- led cam­paign to change the date of Aus­tralia Day, Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son said the Gov­ern­ment would “pro­tect our national day and en­sure it is re­spected”.

“We be­lieve all coun­cils who are granted the priv­i­lege of con­duct­ing ci­ti­zen­ship cer­e­monies should be re­quired to con­duct a ci­ti­zen­ship cer­e­mony on Aus­tralia Day,” he said.

Last year more than 70 per cent of coun­cils held ci­ti­zen­ship cer­e­monies on Jan­uary 26, de­spite be­ing un­der no ob

lig­a­tion to do so.

Two Melbourne coun­cils – Dare­bin and Yarra – have already lost their right to hold ci­ti­zen­ship cer­e­monies after vot­ing to scrap all Aus­tralia Day cel­e­bra­tions in favour of an indige­nous-themed event.

But the Gov­ern­ment be­lieves more coun­cils are us­ing sneaky tac­tics such as blam­ing ex­treme weather or staff num­bers to avoid hold­ing cel­e­bra­tions on Jan­uary 26.

Two of the coun­cils at risk of hav­ing their ci­ti­zen­ship cer­e­mony pow­ers re­voked are Hawkes­bury City Council north­west of Sydney, and Kempsey Shire Council on the NSW mid-north coast.

Both coun­cils will hold ci­ti­zen­ship cer­e­monies on the evening of Jan­uary 25 this year, cit­ing cooler weather.

The Sun­day Mail un­der­stands that a new code has been de­signed to abol­ish loop­holes that al­low coun­cils to hold cer­e­monies ei­ther side of Aus­tralia Day.

Mr Mor­ri­son said the re­vised Aus­tralian Ci­ti­zen­ship Cer­e­monies Code would put an end to lo­cal coun­cils try­ing to skirt the rules or playing pol­i­tics with Aus­tralia Day.

Coun­cils will also be forced to hold a second cer­e­mony on Aus­tralian Ci­ti­zen­ship Day – Septem­ber 17. And, for the first time, new cit­i­zens will be bound by a strict dress code.

“By all means put on the board­ies and thongs for the bar­be­cue af­ter­wards with your friends, but for the of­fi­cial cer­e­mony, it’s the right thing to do to show re­spect in how you dress for your new coun­try of ci­ti­zen­ship and your fel­low new cit­i­zens,” Mr Mor­ri­son said.

The new code will be sent to coun­cils this week but won’t be in­tro­duced un­til 2020.

PICTURE PAWFECT: Dog walker Carly Fitzger­ald (pic­tured in­set) con­trols her clients’ dogs as more pet own­ers are en­gag­ing dog walk­ers to ex­er­cise their pooches. Picture: David Caird

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