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Another Melbourne council follows suit dumps Australia Day

22 August 2017

Darebin council has been stripped of the right to hold citizenship ceremonies less than 24 hours after voting to move its Australia Day celebrations and the assistant immigration minister, Alex Hawke, says Greens MPs will not be allowed to circumvent the ban.

The vote in Darebin comes a week after councillors in the neighbouring City of Yarra also voted to scrap their Australia Day celebrations.

'We are at risk of losing our citizenship ceremonies but we need to make this change to respect our Indigenous people, ' he said.

Under the Australian Citizenship Ceremonies Code, citizenship ceremonies must be "non-commercial, apolitical, bipartisan and secular".

Mr Hawke has also written today to Minister for Local Government and Territories Senator Fiona Nash, asking that the she examine the proportion of Commonwealth Government funding provided to Yarra Council citizenship ceremonies - suggesting the funding be reconsidered.

A second council in the northern suburbs of Melbourne has voted to abandon future Australia Day citizenship and award ceremonies on January 26, to acknowledge the campaign to #changethedate.

As a result of Yarra City Council's move, Darebin Council - which encompasses north Melbourne suburbs such as Preston and Northcote - brought forward its planned planned debate on changing the date to Monday night.

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"The Government will ensure prospective citizens within Darebin and Yarra Councils are allocated to citizenship ceremonies held by neighbouring councils while the Department of Immigration and Border Protection will hold ceremonies as demand requires, including on Australia Day 2018".

"The Victorian government has said they're committed to treaty and to true reconciliation with our people and I don't think that's in the spirit of that commitment", Le Cerf said.

"There will not be any council officers peering over the fence as they have a barbecue", she said.

Darebin council fast-tracked their vote after declaring a prompt decision was required.

Ms Armytage asked if Cr Le Cerf would be showing up to work on January 26.

"I think he is out of touch".

"We are the closest level of government to the community, we know what the the sentiment is in the community, and we will voice that".

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'Why have you decided not to recognise Australia Day?

"We feel that is inappropriate to be holding celebrations on that day".

"This has been discussed in the community for a long time", he said. The date on which the celebration will be held is yet to be confirmed. In moving the motion, councillor Trent McCarthy said it was time to acknowledge "the extreme hurt" felt by Australia's first peoples.

In July, the council conducted an online survey and found 86% of people in the area supported the council backing the #changingthedate campaign, 61% backed moving the citizenship ceremony to a different day, and 48% wanted the Australia Day Awards renamed.

"The decision made by council was not to change a public holiday", Cr Le Cerf said.

According to Hawke, Le Cerf's comments regarding any consultation with local Indigenous Australian residents prior to the vote appear incorrect, considering "the Council also failed to consult the only Indigenous Elder listed in the council's own multicultural directory, Wurundjeri Elder Ian Hunter".

But Professor Ryan said councils needed to consult with both affected parties and non-affected parties before purporting to speak on ratepayers' behalf.

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Another Melbourne council follows suit dumps Australia Day