Council to move events from January 26

Published on 19 September 2019

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The City of Launceston will no longer host Australia Day celebrations on January 26.

 The Council voted unanimously today to host future citizenship and community recognition awards ceremonies on January 25, rather than January 26, out of respect for the Aboriginal community.

 Launceston Mayor Albert van Zetten said hosting events on January 26 had become an increasingly divisive subject.

 "There are so many worthy things to celebrate about Australia, its people and cultures," Mayor van Zetten said.

 "As Mayor, it's a great privilege to officiate at those events, and to see people of different backgrounds coming together to celebrate everything that makes Australia a great nation.

 "They should be events that unite us.

 "However, it's clear that there has been a shift in peoples' views and that this date is a controversial one for many who feel they cannot celebrate these occasions.

 "Hosting our citizenship, awards and other events on January 25 - as some other Northern Tasmanian councils already do - will go some way to ensuring all members of our community can celebrate these events, and what it means to be Australian.

 "I'm grateful to people in the Northern Tasmanian community who have spoken to me - and all the Councillors - about this issue, and I'm thankful to have had the opportunity to listen to those people and to improve my own understanding of the issues involved.

 "It is a privilege for us as a Council to host citizenship ceremonies, and that's a privilege bestowed by the Federal Government.

 "If the Federal Government mandates that Councils must hold their citizenship ceremonies on January 26, today's motion makes clear that the City of Launceston will follow that ruling.

 "However, given the choice, we believe it's appropriate not to host these events on January 26.

 "Today's decision by the Councillors is about acknowledging what happened more than 230 years ago and choosing to be a more inclusive society that wants to have a more meaningful relationship with every member of its community."