City of Launceston will debate date amendment

Trudy Maluga.
Trudy Maluga.

City of Launceston aldermen will debate whether to support a local government push to change the date of Australia Day. 

Hobart’s Lord Mayor, Sue Hickey, wants councils across the state to support her motion for the Local Government Association of Tasmania to lobby the federal government to change the date of Australia Day. 

Launceston aldermen will consider her request at their Strategic Planning and Policy Committee meeting on June 19, before a formal discussion is held at its ordinary meeting, fittingly, on June 26.

Mayor Albert van Zetten said it would be “inappropriate for me to comment on behalf of the council”. 

"From my own perspective, I am eager to hear the discussion and different viewpoints aldermen may have,” he said. 

Alderman van Zetten said it “would be great to have a date we can all celebrate”, but said the issue was one for the federal government.

“I think on an issue like this it's important to consult the community and understand what their expectations are, and I'm sure it will be an interesting discussion next week,” he said.

“I'm aware that many people in the community would rather local government stick to local government issues.”

Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre advocate Trudy Maluga said the day “signifies everything we lost”.

“We're not against an Australia Day - we're just against that particular day,” she said. 

Ms Maluga said the only way to heal historic wounds was to change the date. 

“For us all to move on as a nation, past history needs to be addressed,” she said.

The Aboriginal activist said it was disrespectful to have an annual reminder of "how this country and our rights were taken away".

FIGHT: Aboriginal activist Trudy Maluga hopes the City of Launceston will support a move to change the date of Australia Day. Picture: Paul Scambler

FIGHT: Aboriginal activist Trudy Maluga hopes the City of Launceston will support a move to change the date of Australia Day. Picture: Paul Scambler

Tasmanian Senator Eric Abetz has written to councils about the matter.

“I am pleased that the Launceston mayor has recognised that Australia Day isn’t the province of the Launceston City Council,” he said.

Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre northern manager, Lisa Coulson said the Aboriginal community had been discussing the change “for well over a decade”. 

She disagreed that only time would heal the wounds.