No role for councils in ‘Invasion Day’

AUSTRALIA Day is a day for all Australians to celebrate the things which make our country great.

It is the date upon which the rights we now take for granted were given birth. Rights such as free speech, the right to a fair trial, the right to vote and the beginnings of our Westminster system all took root on this day.

We have much to celebrate, and much of which to be proud. It was disappointing to learn that on June 18, the Australian Local Government Association met in Canberra for its annual National General Assembly, and passed a resolution encouraging councils from all over the country to “consider efforts they could take to lobby the Federal Government to change the date of recognition of Australia Day.” The argument for changing the date of Australia Day stems from the date’s association with the landing of the First Fleet, and has been labelled by some as “Invasion Day”.

Protests about the date will not change history, but they do distract from the challenges which continue to confront indigenous communities. Problems such as domestic violence, unemployment, alcoholism, and poor health in our indigenous communities are not aided by opportunistic raids from local government bodies, and do little more than cast a shadow on our national psyche. The Local Government Act says nothing about councils spending ratepayers money to take up the work of activist groups like GetUp.

I grew tired of local government being used as a vehicle for identity politics years ago, but this latest foray by the ALGA into the realms of Federal politics has left me speechless. I stood for election as a local councillor so that I could make a difference in my local community, not to fight on the front lines of gesture politics but sadly, this attack on our national day could not be left unaddressed.

This week I will ask the Adelaide City Council to instruct the Lord Mayor to write to the Prime Minister, and the ALGA, to indicate that the City of Adelaide wants the date of Australia Day to remain the 26th of January, and to express concern regarding their recent resolution. I hope that position is supported by my colleagues.

Australians should be able celebrate Australia Day together on the 26th, no matter what their colour or creed. We should be celebrating all parts of our multicultural society, including the achievements of our indigenous brothers and sisters. The Australian Local Government Association on the other hand, should concentrate on helping local councils fix their roads