The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) has offered a sharp rebuke to the Federal Government’s move to force councils to conduct citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day, describing the move as ‘heavy-handed and odd’.
The Association’s President, Mayor David O’Loughlin, said that while most of the country’s local government councils won’t oppose the Commonwealth’s announcement, it railroads other concerns that need to be addressed.
“However, most councils hold more than one citizenship ceremony a year, some as often as monthly. The Federal Government’s strong focus on drawing a link between Australia Day and citizenship ceremonies is bizarre,” Mayor O’Loughlin said.
“If the Federal Government had bothered to consult with us in the development of this policy, they would have heard that in some locations, it’s simply too hot for councils to hold ceremonies during the day, so they do it the evening before, just as the Federal Government does with its Australian of the Year Ceremony.
ALGA has responded to the Federal Government’s strong commitment to change the Australian Citizenship Ceremonies Code with calls for it to show an equally strong commitment to assist councils with issues – such as cost – that may come with holding the ceremonies on Australia Day.
“There are significant additional event and staff costs associated with holding citizenship ceremonies on a public holiday, which is why some councils sensibly choose to hold it on a weekday instead,” Mayor O’Loughlin said.