Australia Day date change: City of Launceston will debate but not solve the issue

A change of date for Australia Day will be debated but not solved by the City of Launceston.

The date change was discussed at the strategic planning and policy committee meeting on Monday.

A discussion about the date of Australia Day was sparked this year by Lord Mayor Sue Hickey in April who wrote to other councils ahead of a LGAT meeting.

Aldermen at the SPPC meeting said they didn’t believe it was the council’s role to “solve the issue” by resolving a specific date but thought it was important they were engaged.

Alderman Janie Finlay said it was important the council engage Launceston’s Aboriginal community on the date before resolving a final position.

“For me, the question is how do we engage our Aboriginal community to assist us to inform a view,” she said.

As the council contributes to holding local Australia Day events, Alderman Emma Williams said the council did need to discuss it properly.

“It’s important we don’t get bogged down in trying to solve the problem, but we are involved because we contribute financially to Australia Day events and handle the awards,” she said.

Alderman Hugh McKenzie said while it was also a federal government issue, councils could show their support as they were the “first port of call” for communities on these types of social issues.

Deputy Mayor Rob Soward said he didn’t want to get into a debate on what the new date should be but supported more thought and discussion on the issue.

He said it was important councils represented the views of their communities on social concerns such as this.

Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre advocate Trudy Maluga last week 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. 

A formal discussion about the date change is expected to be on the agenda for the next City of Launceston Council meeting on June 26.