Another local council has joined the #ChangeTheDate campaign, with Hobart City aldermen pledging last night to support the cause. While the council will not stop holding citizenship ceremonies or formal Australia Day celebrations on January 26, it has declared support for Invasion Day protests and will lobby the Federal Government for a more inclusive day of national celebration.
Hobart joins two Melbourne councils, Yarra City and Darebin, as well as Perth's City of Fremantle council, in its criticisms of the Australia Day date. January 26 is considered inappropriate by many Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians due to its commemoration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people becoming dispossessed of their land in 1788.
After the Melbourne councils voted to stop holding citizenship ceremonies on January 26 earlier this year, the Federal Government stripped them of their citizenship powers. The same thing had happened months earlier in Fremantle.
For this reason, Hobart councillors were reluctant to try their luck.
"We wouldn't like to see the citizenship ceremonies, which we all believe are really important, taken away from us like it has occurred in a couple of other mainland councils," Greens councillor Bill Harvey said at the meeting held last night.
"We don't want to lose that, it is just too valuable, but we also want to show our strong support for the Indigenous community of Tasmania and Australia that we support changing the date."
While Hobart's decision to support a new Australia Day is mostly symbolic, the Council hopes its voice will help amplify the #ChangeTheDate campaign. "Hobart is joining a movement that is building," another Hobart alderman Anna Reynolds added.
Aboriginal leaders have welcomed the move, with head of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre Heather Sculthorpe telling the ABC she hoped state politicians would take note. "By Hobart and other councils setting the way like they have been, the pressure will really be on for [Tasmanian Premier] Will Hodgman to come out to support. It would be a fantastic thing and it will make it all the quicker so that we can move on to something else more significant," she said. For Sculthorpe, it's not just the date that needs to change so much as national attitudes. "It's not about when will we celebrate Australia Day. It's how do we reconcile, how do we form a proper relationship with the Aboriginal community," she said. Follow Kat on Twitter