One Day in Freo … for now

MORE WA councils are considering following Fremantle’s lead and ditching their Australia Day celebrations, claims mayor Brad Pettitt.

One Day in Fremantle on January 28 was a resounding success, with a couple of hundred people attending an Aboriginal smoking ceremony at the Round House, then 15,000 cramming the Esplanade for an early evening concert featuring John Butler.

• About 15,000 people packed the Esplanade for the One Day in Fremantle concert, showing their support for Fremantle council’s decision to cancel its Australia Day festivities. Mayor Brad Pettitt says some Aborigines are offended by a celebration of colonisation and a more inclusive day was needed, and her reckons some other councils might be ready to jump on board next year. Photo by James Wagner

• About 15,000 people packed the Esplanade for the One Day in Fremantle concert, showing their support for Fremantle council’s decision to cancel its Australia Day festivities. Mayor Brad Pettitt says some Aborigines are offended by a celebration of colonisation and a more inclusive day was needed, and her reckons some other councils might be ready to jump on board next year. Photo by James Wagner

Fremantle revolt

Dr Pettitt says he has been contacted by a number of councillors in other WA shires who are keen to carry on the Fremantle revolt.

“The day was everything we hoped for; diverse, inclusive with lots of different nationalities and Aboriginal families down there,” he says.

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“From the smoking ceremony in the morning to the concert later on, everything went well.

“And most importantly, it was lots of fun.

“A number of councillors have been in touch expressing they want to do something similar,” says Dr Pettitt.

Tangney Liberal MP Ben Morton, who successfully lobbied to have the council’s citizenship ceremony moved back to January 26, took out a full-page Australia Day advert in the Herald, replete with thongs, fireworks and lyrics from Australia’s national anthem.

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“It’s up to Ben how he wants to spend taxpayers’ money,” quipped Dr Pettitt.

“Ben and I strongly disagree on the issue, but I hope he came down to the One Day event and took something from it.

“The citizenship ceremony on Australia Day was a really nice occasion and there was no hostility towards me from people becoming citizens.”

• One Day is being considered by other councils, says mayor Brad Pettitt. Concert photo courtesy James Wagner, smoking ceremony photos courtesy Pete Zuvela

• One Day is being considered by other councils, says mayor Brad Pettitt. Concert photo courtesy James Wagner, smoking ceremony photos courtesy Pete Zuvela

Fremantle’s stance has sparked a national debate, with calls from WA Noongar elder Robert Isaacs for a referendum on the issue, and others wanting the date shifted to May 8 (mate).

“The conversation has been started and that’s what we wanted to achieve,” says Dr Pettitt.

“If any decision is made on changing the date, I feel it will be made by another tier of government.”

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by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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