One more Australian council is taking a stand on Australia Day celebrations.
Following the lead of the city of Fremantle and two other Melbourne councils, Yarra and Darebin, Moreland City Council has decided to stop festivities on Jan. 26. It will, however, keep citizenship ceremonies on the date.
The decision was made during a meeting on Wednesday, with councillors voting 7-4 to drop references to Australia Day on the date, reported ABC News.
Australia’s national day has long been contentious, but recently efforts to move celebrations on its date have gained traction. Jan. 26 marks the day European colonists settled in Australia in 1788, a date which marks dispossession of and violence toward Indigenous Australians.
“Council has recognised that 26 January signifies a day of mourning for our Aboriginal community as it marks the beginning of the brutal British colonisation of their lands and lives,” reads a statement from councillor Samantha Ratnam in the meeting’s minutes.
Moreland City Council will join other councils in pushing the country’s lawmakers to change the date. The Federal Government stripped citizenship ceremony powers off Yarra Council following its decision to no longer mark Jan. 26 as Australia Day.
Councillor Sue Bolton said during the meeting Jan. 26 “led to the beginning of a Holocaust,” a statement which was met with condemnation from the country’s government.
“The Government absolutely rejects the extreme and divisive nature of the discussion Greens and Socialist Councillors are promoting,” Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Alex Hawke said in a statement, according to the ABC.
“The Turnbull Government strongly condemns comparisons of Australia Day with the Nazi Holocaust as deeply offensive to all Australians. Ratepayers of Moreland, who have not been consulted and who did not sign up to dumping Australia Day, have every right to feel ashamed and angered by this divisive move.”
The decision also brought into question as to what date the country’s national day should be changed, if the opportunity arises. In the case of Fremantle, celebrations have been moved to Jan. 28.
But in the meeting, Bolton advised the national day should be moved to a date when a treaty is signed between Australia’s Indigenous people and the government — another issue long fought by the nation’s first people.