THE City of Fremantle has cancelled its annual Australia Day fireworks in a push for a more “culturally sensitive” celebration.
During last night’s council meeting, councillors voted not to go ahead with the fireworks from 2017 onwards, citing a need to make the day more cost effective, environmentally friendly and culturally sensitive to Fremantle’s Indigenous people.
The City is yet to formalise what will run in its place, with a concert and picnic on the Esplanade Reserve and an Indigenous music celebration at the Fremantle Arts Centre among possible ideas.
Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said the City would also be putting forward a family-friendly event to celebrate being Australian on another yet to be chosen date.
“There has been a growing movement that January 26 is increasingly becoming a day that is ‘not for all Australians’ and for many Aboriginal Australians it is indeed a day of sadness and dispossession,” he said.
“This does not just refer to Indigenous involvement but the involvement of many other Australians who feel increasingly uncomfortable with the date and what it represents.
“The City has received significant feedback supporting the idea of reimagining our Australia Day celebrations from both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.
“I was proud last night to see Fremantle council support this change in what I hope will see a wave of change across the nation that will see Australia Day fundamentally shift to a more inclusive and respectful approach.”
The Fremantle Chamber of Commerce remain against the move, with both president Ra Stewart and chief executive Olwyn Williams voicing concern it could do more harm to Fremantle’s businesses.