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