Australian Greens Leader Dr Richard Di Natale and Victorian Greens Senator Janet Rice have written to Victorian councils across the state, offering to preside over citizenship ceremonies for any council that supports changing the date for Australia Day and has their capacity to hold citizenship ceremonies stripped from them by Federal Government.
“When the City of Yarra supported changing the date for Australia Day, the Federal Government swung in and stripped the City’s capacity to hold citizenship ceremonies. We are concerned this will continue as more local councils move to make Australia Day more inclusive,” said Senator Di Natale.
“Federal members of Parliament have the right to officiate any citizenship ceremony and we will happily do so for any council in Victoria that is bullied by Malcolm Turnbull's Government. This was confirmed by our colleague Adam Bandt MP who sought advice on this following the City of Yarra’s decision to make Australia Day more inclusive.
“We’ve written to Victorian councils to offer them our assistance, using our standing authorisation to preside at citizenship ceremonies, should they face the same situation as the City of Yarra.”
“To Victorian councils such as City of Yarra and Darebin considering the move but worried about backlash from the Federal Government, we urge them not to be intimidated,” said Senator Rice.
“We are happy to engage in a discussion with any Victorian local council, so that any citizenship ceremony we officiate is held in the council’s area, with all councillors invited to attend.
“It should not have got to the point where local councils are having to stand up and move towards a day where everyone is welcome to celebrate Australia, there should have been federal leadership. January 26 is seen as an immensely painful day for our First Peoples.
“To anyone who opposes this change I would say that we are an inclusive and kind country and moving Australia Day to a day where all are welcome is a positive thing.”