PM SAYS RESPECT OUR DAY
Councils told citizenships are a must on January 26
LOCAL councils will be forced to hold citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day, heading off attempts to undermine its significance.
The Morrison Government is making good on its threat to strip rogue councils of the right to hold such events if they shun Australia Day.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Government would “protect our national day and ensure it is respected”. To reinforce that respect, new citizens must now abide by a dress code at the ceremonies.
“We believe all councils who are granted the privilege of conducting citizenship ceremonies should be required to conduct a citizenship ceremony on Australia Day,” the PM said.
It comes as the WA Greens urged people to attend an Invasion Day rally in Perth.
EVERY council will be forced to hold citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day with the Morrison Government making good on its threat to strip rogue councils of their citizenship 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 election-year 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.
The move comes as the WA Greens urged people to attend an Invasion Day rally in Perth’s Forrest Chase on January 26.
In a Facebook video, Senator Rachel Siewert said the date marked more than 230 years of “ongoing dispossession and oppression”. “The more people learn about our history the more they understand January 26th can’t be a day of celebration while it continues to hurt and exclude our first nations peoples,” she said.
Fremantle is again shifting the date of its celebrations to January 27 because the council believes January 26 would never be “fully inclusive”.
However, its citizenship ceremony will still be held on Australia Day after the Federal Government made it clear moving the date would not be sanctioned.
Last year more than 70 per cent of councils held citizenship ceremonies on January 26 despite there being no specific requirement to do so.
Two Melbourne councils have already lost their right to hold citizenship ceremonies after voting to scrap 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.
The Sunday Times understands that a new code has been deliberately designed to abolish loopholes which allow councils to hold ceremonies on the days 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 on September 17.
And, for the first time, new citizens will be bound by a strict dress code.
The PM said it was important citizenship ceremonies were respected.
“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.
Regional and remote councils that don’t have enough new citizens to justify January and September ceremonies will be exempt from the tough new rules.
The revised code will be sent to councils this week but won’t be introduced until Australia Day 2020.