Government wants to force councils to hold citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day

Government wants to force councils to hold citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day
Australia Day ceremonies in 2011. Photo by DIAC Images via Wikimedia Commons

The Government wants to legally force councils around Australia to execute their citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day.

David Coleman, the Federal Immigration Minister, has revealed that he plans to make changes to the code that dictates how citizenship events are handled so as to force councils to hold their ceremonies on January 26.

Many local government councils around Australia have had their right to hold citizenship ceremonies revoked by the federal government for voting to move their ceremonies from January 26 to a date that is less controversial. This is because around the country there is ongoing debate about whether or not the arrival of the first fleet – regarded by some as ‘invasion day’ – is an appropriate date for Australia Day as it alienates indigenous Australians.

Mr Coleman acknowledged that “there is no requirement” forcing councils to hold their citizenship ceremonies on the 26th of January and that Government was planning to engineer that requirement.

Commenting on the issue, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that “I think people want Australia Day to be Australia Day”.

He also reminded Australians that they should follow the formal dress code for citizenship ceremonies and save their “boardies and thongs” for afterwards.

Local councils will be given the chance to provide official feedback regarding the proposed code changes.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten said that the Government was only pursuing this to “keep their base happy”. Despite this, Mr Shorten said that the Labor party would review the details of the proposed changes.

In October of 2018, the Byron Shire council was forced to back down from its decision to hold its citizenship ceremonies on January 25 rather than January 26 after the Government threatened to revoke its right to hold them at all. The council conceded to hold its official ceremony on the 26th but would still hold all other events on the 25th.