14 Sep 2017

Third Melbourne council scraps Australia Day

7:03 pm on 14 September 2017

Another council in Melbourne has ditched Australia Day celebrations, labelling the annual commemoration as offensive and inappropriate.

Protestors wave the Australian Flag with the Union Jack cut out and an Aboriginal Flag, during a protest, organized by Aboriginal rights activists on Australia Day in Melbourne,

Protesters wave the Australian Flag with the Union Jack cut out and an Aboriginal Flag, during a protest, organized by Aboriginal rights activists on Australia Day. Photo: AFP / Anadolu Agency

Three suburban councils, Moreland City, Darebin, and Yarra, have voted to scrap the January 26 celebrations, which mark the arrival of British convict ships in Port Jackson in New South Wales and the raising of the flag of Great Britain at Sydney Cove.

Many indigenous Australians refer to the date as "Invasion Day".

The motion passed 7-4 by Moreland council said it was not an appropriate date for a national celebration as it marked the beginning of the "British invasion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lands and oppression of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people".

Councillor Sue Bolton said at the meeting:

"It would be like celebrating the Nazi Holocaust."

Greens councillor and deputy mayor Samantha Ratnam told the meeting the decision was not about erasing history but acknowledging all of Australia's past.

"Thousands of Australians like me want to celebrate Australia Day, just not on a day that's so painful for others," she said.

The council voted to retain a planned citizenship ceremony on January 26. The Federal government had stripped the other two outlying councils of their right to hold citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day.

The Turnbull government has criticised the councils and said any comparison with the Holocaust was offensive.

Assistant minister for immigration and border protection Alex Hawke, in a statement, said ratepayers did not sign up to have Australia Day dumped.

"The government absolutely rejects the extreme and divisive nature of the discussion Greens and Socialist Councillors are promoting."

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