Councillior Vanessa Ekins adjusted her motion to avoid putting at risk Lismore's ability to conduct citizenship ceremonies.
Councillior Vanessa Ekins adjusted her motion to avoid putting at risk Lismore's ability to conduct citizenship ceremonies. Flickr

Lismore's Aust Day motion amended after federal govt threat

LISMORE City Council has bowed to the demands of the Department of Immigration, which threatened to revoke the council's authority to conduct citizenship ceremonies after a notice of motion was carried to instigate changing the date of Australia Day last month.

In an amended motion to go before the council at next week's meeting, councillor Vanessa Ekins edited her motion to remove part of the motion that stated: 'Identify more appropriate dates for holding Lismore citizenship ceremonies.'

The removal of that particular part of the motion was flagged by Cr Ekins last Wednesday after she received a copy of the letter Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Alex Hawke, which was sent to mayor Isaac Smith.

Cr Ekins rewrote the motion to request the council consult with its Aboriginal Advisory Group about incorporating culturally appropriate history and ceremony into Lismore's citizenship ceremonies.

The revised motion comes after the council's Aboriginal Advisory Group re-jigged and endorsed the motion at their meeting on August 17.

 

Mayoral Candidate for Lismore City Council elections Vanessa Ekins.
Mayoral Candidate for Lismore City Council elections Vanessa Ekins.

Part of the motion calling for progress toward more 'culturally inclusive Australia Day celebrations' was also edited to involve consultations between community and the council.

In the letter Cr Ekins proposed to pen to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull from council to change the date of Australia Day, she also sought to request the Australian citizenship test be amended "to include a lesson about Aboriginal history".

The citizen test textbook, Australian Citizenship: Our Common Bond details the history of indigenous Australians and their language, The dreaming and arts as well as the treatment of indigenous peoples throughout Australia's history.

In the business paper, Cr Ekins said the motion would allow for the council to join more than 300 councils who have moved to change the date.

"By supporting this motion we acknowledge the loss of culture, language and identity felt by Aboriginal people on 26 January and we start the conversation with our community about why 26 January is the wrong date for a national celebration," Cr Ekins said.



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