Mosman Park Council refuses Canberra’s request for a new schedule of citizenship ceremonies

Stock image.
Stock image.

MOSMAN Park Council will tell the Federal Government it will not hold citizenship ceremonies during Canberra’s proposed Citizenship Day on September 17.

“We’ve said we have the right, the flexibility, for the council to hold citizenship ceremonies whenever it wants to,” Mayor Brett Pollock said today.

Last night, councillors considered a request from Immigration Minister David Coleman for councils to present citizenship on Australia Day on January 26 and the new day.

Last month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison sparked debate when he said councils would be forced to hold their ceremonies on the national day and in September.

Mr Morrison’s request came after several councils across Australia sought to move the national day in recognition the impact it has on Aboriginal people.

He was also in favour of banning casual wear, including thongs and board shorts, at the events.

Subsequent Government-requested changes to the Australian Citizenship Ceremonies Code that governs councils running the ceremonies formalised a standard dress code for the public and made any attending MPs read messages from the immigration minister.

However, Mosman Park’s policy for the ceremonies says Mr Pollock can hold them on any day, which currently comprise Australia Day and another date about August.

A staff report said Mr Coleman’s request could have “negative” impacts because Citizenship Week events may fall on Tuesdays when the council holds its meetings.

The report said the request may not fit with the council’s current practice of having six-monthly ceremonies to ensure the second event is well attended.

Councillors agreed to cite the two reasons when rejecting Mr Coleman’s request for the September date.

They supported MPs reading a ministerial message and a council-determined dress code for the public, and will keep their current ceremony schedule.

“We will also continue to hold citizenship ceremonies for individuals who may need it for a passport or emergency,” Mr Pollock said.