Slick ceremony but a disappointing crowd

Taree’s Australia Day ceremony was a slick and professional affair.

Compere Jeremy Thornton kept the show running smoothly while Taree solicitor Maurie Stack, who was this year’s Australia Day ambassador, provided a thought provoking address that touched on a number of issues including the importance of education, changing attitudes and racism.

However, there are problems with the function and indeed, Taree’s response to Australia Day. This has nothing to do with the debate on whether the date should be changed.

MidCoast Council didn’t receive a nomination for the Manning young citizen of the year award, which is a travesty. Taking nothing from the quality of those nominated – however, only two names were put forward for the citizen of the year.

There were eight finalists for the sportstar of the year. Yet this is run in conjunction with the Manning River Times and the Times determined seven of the finalists, as per the agreement with the previous Greater Taree City Council. Only one was nominated by the public.

The entertainment centre was about half full for the function. This was in contrast to ceremonies at Hallidays Point, Wingham and Harrington the Times covered. All drew healthy attendances that far out numbered Taree’s disappointing turnout. Families joined in, kids ran around and enjoyed themselves and the ceremonies went on regardless. That’s how Australia Day should be celebrated.

Perhaps MidCoast Council needs to go on a publicity blitz well before Australia Day next year in a bid to garner more interest in the Taree awards. Mayor David West had indicated this will be the case.

And it is also time council seriously consider a return to the ceremony’s spiritual home – the Manning River Foreshore in 2019.

Pragmatism was behind Greater Taree City’s decision to move to the MEC a few years back. Council had to set up the park for the function and there was always a worry that either wet or hot weather would mar the occasion. However, the MEC doesn’t lend itself to the Australia Day ceremony. Dark and soul-less, the theatre doesn’t promote a sense of community. It’s too formal, too staid.

Let’s go back to the park.

Mick McDonald

Acting editor