A Victorian councillor has condemned a proposal from his own council requesting a cancellation of its Australia Day celebrations.
Cameron Howe, who represents Kingston City Council in the south-east suburbs of Melbourne, revealed to Sky News Australia his council had put forward a bid to terminate citizenship ceremony proceedings on January 26, flying the Australian flag at half-mast for the day and observe a public mourning.
The premise of the request is likely a gesture of respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and comes in the wake of a failed Voice to Parliament referendum.
Mr Howe has contested the proposal, arguing it takes away a special right of new Australian citizens.
“Every person that contributes to this country, earning a right to be a citizen also earns the right to become a citizen on our national holiday, which for most is a day to appreciate the picturesque landscape and opportunity Australia offers,” he told Sky News.
“Proposed bans on citizenship ceremonies take this right away, where we should be welcoming people into this country of opportunity, not shamefully flying the Australian flag at half mast without dignity that is reserved for when only instructed by the federal government.”
If the decision is made, it would mark a significant step for campaigners around the country who have been urging for Australia Day’s date to be changed.
Many Indigenous people regard the occasion as Invasion Day and Survival Day, given its contextual significance of marking the entry of colonial powers into the nation.
In 2021, Victoria’s Glen Eira Council lowered its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags to half-mast on Australia Day and was the only Victorian council to do so.
The decision on the national holiday could be made at a council meeting in November.
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