PM’s jab at councils as he reveals indigenous day plan
SCOTT Morrison has flagged a new national day for indigenous Australians in a bid to end ongoing division over Australia Day.
In his strongest words on the campaign to change the date of the celebration of Australia's national day, the Prime Minister instead proposed a separate day for the country's traditional owners, saying that while Australia had a "great national story" it was "not perfect".
It comes as The Daily Telegraph can reveal Mr Morrison has cancelled Byron Shire Council's authority to conduct citizenship ceremonies after the northern NSW local government decided to change the date of its Australia Day celebrations.
Mr Morrison's position is that Australia Day should be celebrated on January 26, to acknowledge that on this day "Australia changed forever" and, prior to this, there was 60,000 years of indigenous history.
"We know there are things that have happened, like in every country, that have left deep scars, particularly in relation to the treatment and experience of indigenous Australians," he said.
"Such scars should not provide an invitation for self-loathing, but a reminder of what we have learned and how we have become a better nation.
"In recent years, some have said we should walk away from Australia Day on January 26. For some this comes from a place of deep respect for indigenous Australians.
"I understand this, but respectfully disagree."
Instead, Mr Morrison indicated he would like to create a new national day for indigenous citizens.
"I also believe we need to honour and acknowledge in our national calendar our indigenous peoples," he said.
"Rather than further conflict and argument, this is how I believe we can work together to bring and keep Australians together."
Mr Morrison moved swiftly to strip the Byron council of its authority to conduct citizenship ceremonies, accusing it of acting as a "taxpayer-funded version of GetUp!".
"The Australian government authorises local councils to hold citizenship ceremonies, not to rewrite the rules or use them as a political football," he said. "If they are not prepared to respect these ground rules, then other arrangements can be made with those who want to promote unity on our national day.
"Our councils are there to focus on the services needs of local ratepayers, not become a rate- and taxpayer-funded version of GetUp!."
His decisive stand opposing changes to the date of Australia Day follows an interview with The Daily Telegraph last week in which he expressed hopes that the Australian public would come to know his instincts and to understand how he would react towards events and social issues.
Immigration and Citizenship Minister David Coleman said Byron Council's actions were divisive, and councils would not be allowed to seek to move Australia Day citizenship ceremonies.