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Time for councils to pay respect and commit to #ChangeTheDate

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 18 Aug 2017

It’s time for NSW councils to make history and join with the growing movement in local government that are committed to #ChangeTheDate of Australia Day.

Yarra Council unanimously voted this week on an extensive motion to no longer refer to January 26 as Australia Day, stop holding citizenship ceremonies on this date and officially support the #ChangeTheDate campaign.          

Yarra is not alone with Fremantle and Hobart councils passing similar motions, and the Australian Local Government Association passing a resolution at its National General Assembly in June to:

“Encourage Australian councils to consider efforts they could take to lobby the Federal Government to change the date of recognition of Australia Day.”

It’s time for councils across the state to recognise what January 26 represents, take a stand and change the date. Greens at all levels of government support changing the date.

 

Greens Senator for NSW Lee Rhiannon said:

“January 26 marks the beginning of what is now widely regarded as genocide, it’s a National Day of Mourning and it isn’t something to celebrate with a BBQ and beer.

“It is great to see local councils taking leadership on an issue that so many of our State and Federal politicians have been shamefully silent on.

“Now it’s time for councils across the state to recognise what January 26 represents, take a stand and change the date.

“The Parliamentary Library has confirmed that all federal MPs have authorisation to preside over Australian citizenship ceremonies.

“I have an open door to any council who has their citizenship roles stripped as a result of taking a stand on Australia Day” Senator Rhiannon said.

 

Greens NSW MP and Local Government Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

 “We respect what January 26 actually means to our first peoples, and for so many it represents the loss of land, culture, language and it represents invasion.

“There’s a lot to celebrate about modern multicultural Australia, but this cannot come at the expense of excluding our first peoples.

“There are at least 364 days a year where we can come together as Australians that do not come at the expense of the ongoing violence, oppression and dispossession our first people have suffered.

“Yarra Council is far from alone in the stance it has taken, they are backed up by the peak national local government body and by millions of Australians goodwill” Mr Shoebridge said. 

 

Greens candidate in the upcoming Inner West Council elections (Ashfield Ward) Tom Kiat said:

"So many people I have spoken to in the community want to see a change to the way we commemorate January 26, as a positive step toward better engagement with local Aboriginal communities.

“Greens on Council will propose that January 26 be commemorated by Council in a way that is meaningful to local Aboriginal communities.

"Local councils can play a fundamental role in listening to their communities and driving real, grassroots change.

"I'm proud that local councils are taking action in response to Aboriginal leaders calling for a better way to remember January 26.

"I believe that most people, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, in the Inner West will welcome the position we are taking to Council,” Tom Kiat said.
 

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