Fremantle Australia Day fallout: Fremantle MHR Josh Wilson slams Federal interference

Federal Member for Fremantle Josh Wilson.
Federal Member for Fremantle Josh Wilson.

Fremantle MHR Josh Wilson has slammed his Federal counterparts for interfering with the Fremantle community’s decision to hold a culturally respective alternative to Australia Day.

Mr Wilson told 720 ABC radio this morning he was disappointed to see Federal ministers and members getting involved with a local community’s decision, saying he didn’t think it was helpful.

“We’re a relatively young nation. We’ve changed considerably over time, and we’ll continue to change and that only happens because we’re able to consider these type of issues in a sensible, moderate, grassroots way,” he said.

MORE: Federal member for Fremantle backs City’s Australia Day stance

“The City of Fremantle has set out to do that, and then you have a Federal Government minister reaching in over the top ostensibly with the interest to take the politics out of it and doing precisely the opposite.

“I don’t take issue with (Liberal member for Tangney) Ben Morton or anyone else being part of the conversation.

“I think in this case though, whenever you find a minister writing a stern or sort of threatening letter to a local government and the letter is put in the public domain before it’s reached its intended recipient or before a phone call has been made, it’s pretty hard to see how the Minister and Ben Morton to some degree, aren’t the ones rushing to outrage at 10 paces.”

The statement comes after City of Fremantle was told yesterday it will not be allowed to hold its Australian Citizenship ceremony on January 28 after the Federal Government raised objections.

In a letter responding to Assistant Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said the decision was made to hold an inclusive event that was “more respectful” for the entire community, not to malign Australia Day or those who celebrate it.

“Of course we acknowledge that there are diverse community views on this issue, and we respect this diversity,” he wrote.

“We take our responsibility to conduct Citizenship Ceremonies most seriously, and consequently, we have ensured our media statements on this matter, and the manner in which we conduct this event will fulfill the requirements of the Citizenship Ceremonies Code.

“The event will be entirely non-commercial, secular and non-political.

“We have no wish to be in breach of the requirements of the Citizenship code, and would be happy to work with officers of (the Department of Immigration and Border Protection) to ensure that the event can proceed as planned on January 28th in an manner that meets requirements.”