Last year it was local councils stripped of hosting Australia Day citizenship ceremonies. Now, MPs could be the ones facing a ban from hosting these ceremonies.
The federal government has given a warning to all politicians that they could lose their right to hold citizenship ceremonies as the Australia Day date debate continues, according to AAP.
Yesterday, the Greens announced that they could hold the 26 January citizenship ceremonies on behalf of local councils, claiming it was out of respect for indigenous people.
Acting Citizenship Minister Mathias Cormann has hit back at this offer, saying federal MPs can’t use these ceremonies as ‘political expression’. Currently, all senators and federal MPs have the right to host citizenship ceremonies. The senator said in a statement:
‘As our government has done with two local councils already, the minister can revoke a person’s or an organisation’s authorisation to conduct citizenship ceremonies, by changing the relevant legislative instrument’.
But these comments haven’t phased Greens Leader Richard Di Natale:
‘Let’s remember what this is about, this is about a day that represents so much hurt and suffering for first nations peoples,’ the senator told Sky News on Wednesday.
‘We lose nothing by changing the day on which we celebrate Australia Day.’
A vote in the upper house wold be needed to change the regulations, said Senator Di Natale.
However, if the changes are made through a legislative instrument (as they intend), then the government wouldn’t need to have a vote, AAP reports.
While a vote in parliament could veto them, they aren’t set to sit until mid-February, according to AAP.
According to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Senator Di Natale is trying to undermine the public holiday.
On Wednesday, the PM told reporters in Vanuatu:
‘It’s not good enough to say that you just won’t change it…
‘You have to stand up for it. And I’m standing up for it.’
Only 10% want a change of date for Australia Day
A new poll released that three-in-four people still think Australia Day should be celebrated on 26 January.
The poll was commission by the Institute of Public Affairs (a right-wing think tank). The polls shows that out of 1000 people surveyed, only 10% want to see a change of date for Australia Day.
Mr Morrison is planning to make councils hold the ceremonies on our national day. He will also be enforcing a strict dress code at official events, in an effort to preserve the date, AAP reports.
Labor and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten declared that the date of Australia Day wouldn’t move if he became PM. He also said he won’t tell people what to wear to citizenship ceremonies.
He also said he won’t fall into the Greens’ impression regarding citizenship ceremonies, telling the Nine Network on Wednesday:
‘Some days I’d like to put the Greens with Tony Abbott and a few of the right-wing in the Liberal Party in the same room, tell them to sort it out, and the rest of us can just get on and cook a snag on the barbie…
‘The Greens can say or do what they want. Labor is not going to go down that path. We’re not going to have big political debates about the day of Australia Day.’
Safe to say, Australia Day will remain on 26 January for some time to come.
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