Australia Day celebrations could be a thing of the past if City of Launceston council passes a motion to withdraw support for events and ceremonies celebrating January 26.
The notice of motion was put forward by Councillor Tim Walker in response to him asking the council to consider taking a position on changing the date of Australia Day at the December 20 meeting.
General manager Michael Stretton replied to Cr Walker’s question in this week’s agenda.
He said the council hadn’t adopted a formal position to changing the date and there had been no formal discussions between the council and the community.
Mr Stretton said a notice of motion was required for the council to formally consider its policy position.
Cr Walker’s motion recommends other than adhering to legal obligations outlined by the federal government, the council should cease officially celebrating Australia Day on January 26 after 2019.
“Council does acknowledge and celebrate January 26 as Australia Day and that is not inclusive to all members of our community,” he said.
Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre community worker Adam Thompson said Cr Walker’s motion showed great leadership.
Mr Thompson said it was time for the council to show respect and leadership by removing references to Australia Day on January 26 because “it marks the invasion of our country”.
Cr Walker recommended the council consult with the Tasmanian Aboriginal community about the appropriateness of any events held on January 26; remove references to January 26 as Australia Day and no longer sponsor or organise events under that name on that date; and write to, and regularly lobby, the federal government to change the date for Australia's national day to one acceptable to the whole community.
In the agenda, Mr Stretton said the federal government was reviewing the Australian Citizenship Ceremonies Code and a series of proposed amendments undergoing consultation until the end of February.
“It is respectfully suggested that if the council has an appetite to review its Australia Day Policy, that this should occur after an informed discussion and engagement has been carried out between the council and the community,” he said.
The council debated changing the date of Australia Day in 2017 after former Hobart Lord Mayor Sue Hickey said councils across the state should support her motion for the Local Government Association of Tasmania to lobby the federal government to change the date of Australia Day.
Mr Stretton said the motion called for significant policy change and it may be prudent to wait for the final version of the ceremonies code so an informed decision could be made.
Acting Mayor Danny Gibson said he was looking forward to Thursday’s meeting and the opportunity to debate the motion put forward by Cr Walker.
The council meeting is held at the Town Hall and will begin at 1pm.