Australia Day: Perth’s eastern councils rail against Greens leader’s push on date change

Stock image.
Stock image.

THE City of Swan says there is no place for party politics in local government.

It comes after Greens leader Richard Di Natale this week announced a push to move Australia Day from January 26 would be a top priority for the Greens this year, pledging to use the party’s representatives in local government to influence how communities mark the occasion.

Senator Di Natale had said the Greens would use its 100 members in councils nationally to push moving Australia Day, which has been changed at three Melbourne councils, following Fremantle Council’s lead last year.

However City of Swan Deputy Mayor Kevin Bailey said all councillors should be independent and unbiased in their consideration of the complex issues of good governance.

“Local government is where the rubber meets the road and it should be free of political ideologies and influences,” he said.

“Councillors are elected to achieve the best outcomes for the whole community and that cannot be achieved when they are working to a political agenda.”

Shire of Mundaring President Cr John Daw hit out about the perceived control that political parties might have over councils.

“One of the great things about local governments is their independence,” he said.

“Mundaring Council is first and foremost concerned with our community’s interests and issues at the local level.

“Council is not affiliated with any political party, including the Greens, and is not politically obliged in its decision making, and therefore carries no party political baggage.”

Meanwhile the City of Kalamunda encouraged the community to share their views on a national push to change the date of Australia Day.

Mayor John Giardina said currently the City has a citizenship ceremony and a pool party at Kalamunda Water Park to mark Australia Day.

“Councillors are elected to represent the interests of the community locally, not those of a political party, and I encourage community members to give us their views on the issue,” he said.

The mayor of Perth’s largest council does not believe local government is the appropriate level to unite communities about the date to celebrate Australia Day.

Stirling Mayor Mark Irwin acknowledged that feedback received from the Aboriginal community was divided but did not believe it a matter for local government to determine.

“The City will continue to hold our Australia Day awards followed by a citizenship ceremony and will to use this day to celebrate our great country, our inclusiveness and our diversity,” he said.

“The City will continue to focus on fostering reconciliation, understanding and respect from all parties.”

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