Members Statement: Citizenship Ceremonies | Sue Pennicuik

Members Statement: Citizenship Ceremonies

I would like to congratulate the City of Yarra and the City of Darebin on deciding to no longer conduct citizenship ceremonies on 26 January. Other councils are considering doing the same. It is up to councils when their citizenship ceremonies are held.
Wednesday, August 23, 2017 - 12:00pm
Speaker:
Sue Pennicuik

Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) — I would like to congratulate the City of Yarra and the City of Darebin on deciding to no longer conduct citizenship ceremonies on 26 January. Other councils are considering doing the same. It is up to councils when their citizenship ceremonies are held. The City of Yarra resolved to hold a small-scale culturally sensitive event on that day. It will also undertake community education to help people to understand how the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community experiences 26 January.

The City of Darebin voted to acknowledge that 26 January marks the beginning of the invasion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lands and the oppression of their people. It is therefore not an appropriate date for an inclusive national celebration. Both councils support the change the date campaign. While many people, both within and outside of councils, wholeheartedly support these decisions, others have complained that they have not been listened to or consulted. To them I would say it is the Aboriginal community who have not been listened to for many decades.

In 2018 it will be 80 years since the first mourning day, which continues to be held annually, otherwise known as Invasion Day or Survival Day.

Honourable members interjecting.

The PRESIDENT — Order! Mr Ramsay just completed a contribution to this house that could well have incited a great deal of annoyance from the government benches and particularly the Greens benches. They were fairly restrained in their response to Mr Ramsay's contribution. Everyone knows that my view of 90-second statements is that there ought not be interjections in those because it is a very short period of time for a member to put a point of view. Whether or not people agree with the point of view is irrelevant. The fact is that a member is entitled to make that contribution in silence in this place.

Ms PENNICUIK — I have never been comfortable with Australia Day because I believe it is callous and inappropriate to celebrate the dispossession of our first nations people. I do not attend Australia Day events. I do attend many citizenship ceremonies in the Southern Metropolitan Region, but not on 26 January. I do think it is time to change the date of our national day and holiday to one that is inclusive of everyone, in particular Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Moving it away from 26 January is not that difficult, and more and more Australians are coming to realise the need for it.