Member for Port Macquarie Leslie Williams says don't change Australia Day

Member for Port Macquarie, Leslie Williams has written to the general managers of MidCoast Council and Port Macquarie-Hastings Council urging them to rule out any changes to Australia Day celebrations.

A number of councils in Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania have recently voted to cancel Australia Day celebrations including citizenship ceremonies.

“The actions of some councils has prompted much discussion about the significance of Australia Day and I believe there is an overwhelming view in our community that any attempt to change events hosted on our national day including welcoming new citizens should be ruled out,” Mrs Williams said.

“We can’t rewrite history but as we celebrate January 26 as our national day we can also use the opportunity to reflect on the past and work together so Australia is an even better place to live in the future.

“While Australia Day marks the beginnings of ‘European’ colonization and, in many people’s view, the wrongly claimed possession of the land, we can also acknowledge on this day that it was cared for and nurtured for the 60,000 years prior by the ancestors of our local Aboriginal people,” Mrs Williams said.

“Our local Aboriginal community, with the strength of its elders, have played a prominent part in Australia Day activities and events in recent years. Their participation furthers reconciliation and our understanding of our history, and to make changes to Australia Day would undermine this positive engagement.

“I am a strong advocate for reconciliation and recognition of Aboriginal people as the First Peoples of this country and while we welcome many different cultures to join us as Australian citizens we must also recognise the deep connection of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples to this country.

“I have written to both Port Macquarie-Hastings Council and Mid Coast Council seeking confirmation that they will not be attempting to cancel Australia Day Citizenship Ceremonies or to make changes to Australia Day events in each of their local government areas,” Mrs Williams said.