In a passionate debate, City of Launceston aldermen have endorsed supporting a local government push to lobby the federal government to discuss changing the date of Australia Day.
Alderman Emma Williams moved a motion to support a push from the Hobart City Council to unify Tasmanian councils and lobby the federal government to change the date.
Moving her motion on the eve of NAIDOC week, Alderman Williams said January 26 celebrates the raising of the British flag in the early days of the colony.
“It’s not a date that celebrates Australia, as the nation did not exist,” she said.
The motion was carried 10 votes to one, with Alderman Robin McKendrick voting against the support motion.
He said the council had not consulted the community for its view.
“Apart from a few people in the community that have spoken to me about it, quite frankly it hasn’t been a huge number, it has not been hundreds and hundreds of people,” he said.
“I can’t in all conscience speak here today on behalf of the community of the City of Launceston
“We have not consulted.”
Earlier this month Aboriginal activist Trudy Maluga supported the discussion, and 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.
Alderman Danny Gibson stressed it was not the City of Launceston driving the discussion about the date change.
Responding to Alderman McKendrick’s comments, Alderman Williams said it was not a perfect way to drive the community debate, but it was a start.
“That doesn’t happen unless someone takes a step forward,” she said.
“This is that step forward.
“The opportunity for consultation and discussion around the date is a later step in that process.”
Mayor Albert Van Zetten called for a community discussion about the matter.
“I would be happy to write to the Prime Minister or to anyone and say, please have a community discussion on how we can do this,” he said.
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