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Council removes ‘Australia Day’ wording


Cairns Regional Council has shocked its own councillors by stripping the words “Australia Day” from January 26 events but others have welcomed the move. What do you think? VOTE IN OUR POLL

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says Opposition leader Peter Dutton is always “looking to divide”. Mr Albanese responded in an interview with Sky News Australia to Mr Dutton’s call for a national boycott of Woolworths for its decision to axe its Australia Day merchandise. “I think we need to stop looking for areas in which we can be outraged – we need to come together,” Mr Albanese told Sky News Australia. “What I’m disappointed by, but not surprised by Peter Dutton, is he’s always looking to divide – always looking for an us versus them. “I think that Peter Dutton needs to explain why it is that he thinks those 200,000 (Woolworths) jobs aren’t important and needs to explain as well how long does a boycott that he called for go for?”

The council has removed the title “Australia Day” from its Citizen of the Year award ceremony, and moved the event to February 1.

In 2022 and 2023, the event was titled “Australia Day Awards”.

Majella Fallon, who was awarded citizen of the year in 2023, said she disagreed with council’s decision.

Majella Fallon, recipient of the 2023 Citizen of the Year award, said she disagreed with the council’s decision. Picture: Emily Barker

“It would be mindful to be transparent so people can understand why council changed the (award ceremony) date. No explanation being put forward is questionable,” Ms Fallon said.

“January 26 is still heralded as Australia Day. So until that changes, why should celebrations change?”

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Stratford’s Peter McNally, who was recognised in 2019 for fundraising contributions to the FNQ Hospital Foundation, also disagreed with the council’s move, and said receiving the award on Australia Day made the occasion feel more special.

“Personally, I felt very proud to be Australian. I think everybody should be proud of being Australian,” Mr McNally said.

Cairns Regional Council has moved the date of its Citizen of the Year Awards to February 1. Pete McNally, 2019 Citizen of the Year, disagreed with the move. Picture: Brendan Radke

Brinsmead’s Daniel Rosendale, who was awarded young citizen of the year in 2020, said he agreed with the move.

“I believe it’s a progressive move that includes people from all walks of life,” Mr Rosendale said.

“It links success in our community not to a day, but to the individual’s achievements.

“For some, celebrating and accepting awards on such a contentious dates can be met with mixed emotions.”

Division 3 councillor Cathy Zeiger said councillors were blindsided by the decision.

“I think it’s poor form. But councillors being the last to find out things seems to have been the case quite often recently,” Ms Zeiger said.

Young Citizen of the Year for 2020 Daniel Rosendale believes the council’s decision to move the date of the awards ceremony is the right choice. Picture: Brendan Radke

Division 7 councillor Max O’Halloran said councillors did not participate in the decision.

“It’s sad to see it’s come to this. We seem to be losing this tradition everywhere – it’s being thrown out the window,” Mr O’Halloran said.

The council is now referring to its suite of January 26 activities, hosted at public pools throughout the LGA, as “Family Fun Day” or “the Public Holiday”.

The website was updated with one reference to Australia Day following an enquiry from the Cairns Post.

Retiring councillor Max O’Halloran said the council decision was not made in consultation with councillors. Picture: Brendan Radke

Council’s CEO Mica Martin said the wording “Australia Day” was still being used in “some” promotional material, with a consistent focus on free family fun.

“Promotional materials being used to advertise the three free family fun events reflect the approach used last year, and which contributed to successful events,” Ms Martin said.

“The promotion of Australia Day events and the format of the Citizen of the Year Awards was done in close consultation with mayor Bob Manning last year. The approach was very successful.”

Ms Martin said a citizenship ceremony would still be held at council’s civic room on Australia Day, with more than 70 people expected to attend.

“The decision to hold the Citizen of the Year awards on February 1 is to ensure the focus of the awards is on the recipients – their merits, achievements and actions as exemplary citizens of Cairns,” she said.

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