Australia Day: date debate rages, but 50,000 expected to flock to South Perth foreshore

Australia Day: date debate rages, but 50,000 expected to flock to South Perth foreshore

DESPITE debate raging about the right date to celebrate Australia Day, about 50,000 people will still head to the South Perth foreshore on January 26.

The issue was ignited when Federal Greens leader Richard Di Natale last week claimed he wanted to use his party’s influence in local governments around the country to push the Greens agenda for a change of date.

The City of South Perth reaffirmed its commitment to Australia Day after councillor Cheryle Irons put forward a motion in September for the council to celebrate Australia Day on January 26 “each and every year”, which was passed unanimously with no councillors debating against it.

The issue proved more divisive for the Town of Victoria Park during October, after a motion for the council to celebrate the Australia Day on January 26 was eventually softened after Aboriginal Engagement Strategy Group (AESG) member Dylan Collard voiced his concerns.

The council moved to celebrate Australia Day on the date designated by the Federal Government and to discuss the meaning of January 26 with the AESG.

Mayor Trevor Vaughan said last week that the decision allowed for respectful conversations between the group, elected members and the Town’s administration.

“We will continue to work with the AESG to find ways that can be more inclusive of Indigenous Australians and implement the Town’s upcoming Reconciliation Action Plan,” he said.

What they had to say

Stirling Mayor Mark Irwin – Acknowledged feedback from the Aboriginal community but did not believe it was a matter for local government to determine.

Rockingham Mayor Barry Sammels – Described party politics as prevalent in the eastern states but of minor influence in WA.

UWA Australian history chairwoman Jane Lydon – Supports making May 9 the new Australia Day, which marks the founding of the first Federal Parliament in 1901.

Noongar elder Robert Isaacs – Australia Day should remain on January 26 and urged people to treat it as a day of reconciliation.

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