Western suburbs mayors bat away Greens suggestion of changing Australia Day date

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SOME Perth mayors have given short thrift to a campaign by Greens leader Richard Di Natale for supporters in all councils to push for Australia Day being moved from January 26 to improve relationships with Aboriginals.

“It would be voted down, because a large number of the Aboriginal population see changing Australia Day as divisive and unnecessary,” Town of Claremont Mayor Jock Barker said.

Overnight, Senator Di Natale 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.

The western suburbs of Perth have traditionally tried to at least have the impression of non-political councils.

However, members of the Liberal and Green parties have served in the past.

Mr Barker said while Sen Di Natale was “at liberty” to call on his membership to influence his council, which had worked with environmentalists and Aboriginals on rejuvenating Lake Claremont, he personally did not take notice of what had been said by the Green’s leader.

Mosman Park Mayor Brett Pollock, who does not support change, said moving the national day was not an issue in his town.

Mr Pollock said it would be debated if any councillor managed to get a seconder to support discussion at the council, where outside political influence was frowned on.

“While we live in a democracy, I’m opposed to political factions in local government,” Mr Pollock said.

Cottesloe Council has had Green Party members, including former councillor Greg Boland who would run as a party’s candidate at State elections, and the late Jay Birnbrauer.

Mayor Philip Angers said he believed any change was a State Government matter, but councillors would not be prevented from proposing a motion to debate the date, any change from which could result in an “expensive” poll of residents.

“I’d prefer real efforts to help Aboriginal people, instead of a political stunt,” Mr Angers said.

At Peppermint Grove Council, president Rachel Thomas said the date for Australia Day celebrations was a Federal Government decision, but councillors could put forward a motion at any meeting at a council, where there were no political factions, that preferred local issues.

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