Two ceremonies on the cards to cater for patriotic new Aussies
FREMANTLE council will hold its January citizenship ceremony on Australia Day despite the Albanese government last Friday softening rules to allow them “around” the national day.
Fremantle led a local government revolt against Australia Day in 2017, cancelling its fireworks celebration and asking to shift its citizenship ceremony from January 26 because the Indigenous community was becoming increasingly uncomfortable about participating.
It sparked a stern rebuke from the Morrison government, which threatened to strip the council of its right to hold citizenship ceremonies if it moved them. Freo towed the line and instead held a “One Day in Fremantle” celebration on January 28, but the Yarra and Darebin councils went ahead and were punished.
Last Friday citizenship minister Andrew Giles reversed that position, calling it a “pragmatic change in line with the government’s commitment to efficient processing of citizenship applications and timely ceremonies for new citizens”.
Fitzhardinge said the decision had come too late to change the city’s plans for 2023.
“Our plans are already in place for the coming January 26 citizenship ceremony, but we’ll consider what we want to do beyond that,” Ms Fitzhardinge said.
“It’s a positive development for local governments to have a choice.”
A spokesperson for the city said despite the controversy around January 26 and its link to colonisation, many people seeking citizenship were proudly patriotic and wanted the ceremony on that day.
It could lead to Fremantle possibly offering two citizenship ceremonies in the future; one on the day and another nearby.
Vincent council often swings like Freo on social issues and two weeks ago voted to push the Albanese government to allow them to move its citizenship ceremonies to a “less disrespectful date”.
Previously Vincent mayor Emma Cole had also criticised the Morrison government’s edict, saying it earned her hate male fomr “older white men living in Western Sydney.
“For me this is really about how our Aboriginal community and leaders feel about this, and I have actually seen the discomfort of Aboriginal representatives who come to the citizenship ceremony on Australia Day to give a welcome to country, and it does make me feel deeply uncomfortable that they feel that way,” Ms Cole said.
She said the date meant a local Noongar choir wouldn’t attend Australia Day citizenship ceremonies or celebrations, while some Indigenous people who did attend brought support people along to help deal with the emotions it raised.