Aus­tralia to force lo­cal gov­ern­ments to in­duct ci­ti­zens on na­tional hol­i­day

The Borneo Post (Sabah) - - WORLD -

SYD­NEY: Aus­tralia’s fed­eral gov­ern­ment has or­dered lo­cal gov­ern­mentsto­hold­nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion cer­e­monies for new ci­ti­zens on Aus­tralia Day amid con­tro­versy over the hol­i­day, which some claim is of­fen­sive to its in­dige­nous peo­ple.

The gov­ern­ment is propos­ing that all lo­cal gov­ern­ment bod­ies in Aus­tralia, typ­i­cally re­ferred to as coun­cils, must hold in­duc­tion cer­e­monies for new ci­ti­zens on the Aus­tralia Day hol­i­day on Jan 26 and the Aus­tralian Cit­i­zen­ship Day hol­i­day on Sept 17 or have their au­tho­ri­sa­tion re­voked, Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter David Cole­man said in an emailed state­ment yes­ter­day.

Aus­tralia Day marks the an­niver­sary of the 1788 ar­rival of the first Bri­tish fleet to Syd­ney Cove where the Bri­tish flag was raised on the con­ti­nent mark­ing the start of coloni­sa­tion.

Abo­rig­ines trace their lin­eage on the is­land con­ti­nent back 50,000 years and for them, the date marks the start of the loss of their cul­tural her­itage and suf­fer­ing un­der dis­crim­i­na­tory poli­cies.

The hol­i­day has be­come con­tro­ver­sial with pres­sure by ac­tivists to change the date from what they call ‘In­va­sion Day’.

The coun­try’s 700,000 or so in­dige­nous peo­ple track near the bot­tom of its 25 mil­lion ci­ti­zens in al­most ev­ery eco­nomic and so­cial in­di­ca­tor.

Sev­eral lo­cal coun­cils have stopped hold­ing cit­i­zen­ship cer­e­monies on Aus­tralia Day be­cause of con­cerns the date is in­sult­ing to Abo­rig­ines.

At a press con­fer­ence tele­vised by the Aus­tralian Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion yes­ter­day, Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Cole­man said more than 100 of the coun­try’s 537 coun­cils do not hold cit­i­zen­ship cer­e­monies on the Aus­tralia Day hol­i­day.

How­ever, Aus­tralian Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion Pres­i­dent David O’Lough­lin said coun­cils hold mul­ti­ple cit­i­zen­ship cer­e­monies through­out the year and the ma­jor­ity of those who skip Aus­tralia Day do so for prac­ti­cal rea­sons.

“It’s a very ex­pen­sive un­der­tak­ing to do a pub­lic event on a pub­lic hol­i­day,” he told Reuters yes­ter­day.

“About two or three only moved the day for ide­o­log­i­cal rea­sons.”

The pro­posed changes to the Aus­tralian Cit­i­zen­ship Cer­e­monies Code are planned for in­tro­duc­tion by the first half of 2019, the min­is­ter’s state­ment said.

Cole­man plans to write to the coun­cils and re­ceive feed­back on the changes, the state­ment said. — Reuters

Tourists visit an al­ley with build­ings adorned with graf­fiti in Mel­bourne. — AFP photo

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