Byron Council stripped of Australia Day honour
SCOTT Morrison has slammed councils for morphing into "mini versions of the United Nations" and has stripped an "indulgent" and "self-loathing" Byron Shire Council of its right to hold citizenship ceremonies.
The Prime Minister slammed the northern NSW Green-leaning council for citing indigenous hurt for moving its Australia Day celebrations a day forward to January 25, but surprisingly flagged a new day to honour First Australians.
Mr Morrison told The Courier-Mail councillors and mayors should not act like they were at UN headquarters in New York and demanded they do their "day job" of roads, rubbish, rates and recycling.
The council has become the third municipality, after Yarra and Darebin in Melbourne, to be banned in recent months from hosting citizenship ceremonies.
Byron Shire Mayor Simon Richardson revealed the decision last Thursday because January 26 did "not reflect the importance of the First Australians and their history".
"In fact, celebrating the arrival of Europeans causes grief for many people, so I think to move the date for our Australia Day ceremony to the night before is a reasonable compromise," he said.
But Mr Morrison - who has picked his first political fight outside Canberra that puts more pressure on Labor frontbenchers under attack from The Greens in inner-city seats - said the scars felt by indigenous Australia should not provide an "invitation for self-loathing".
"The Australian Government authorises local councils to hold citizenship ceremonies, not to rewrite the rules or use them as a political football.
"Their job is to book the hall and conduct the ceremony with respect and dignity, in accordance with the procedures set out by the Government.
"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.
"On Australia Day we remember and celebrate all Australians, from the first to the most recent.
"That said, I also believe we need to honour and acknowledge in our national calendar our Indigenous Peoples. That is a topic for another day."