Mayor Mathew Hatcher told East Coast Radio it’s not true that Eurobodalla Council cancelled its usual Australia Day citizenship ceremony.
“I’m disappointed that our shire has been listed by click-bait news outlets trying to polarise feelings around Australia Day; particularly given the success of our inclusive Australia Day citizenship ceremony last year,” Mayor Hatcher said.
“They never contacted us directly which is sad but that’s what we deal with constantly these days, so I’d like to thank 2EC/Power FM and a lot of the other local media outlets for contacting us directly to check with us and make sure the story has been set straight.”
“What we have done for 2024 is change the timing to Australia Day eve. Not as a political statement but for purely practical reasons.”
Mayor Hatcher said the 2023 Australia Day citizenship ceremony which will be held at the Eurobodalla Bonatic Gardens in 2024, brought together existing and new citizens, young and old Indigenous and non-Indigenous residents and performers, federal and state politicians, community groups and even the army cadets in “a wonderful celebration of civic duty”.
“But we don’t rest on our laurels,” he said.
A review of the ceremony highlighted conflicts with other Australia Day events, including Rotary Club’s citizen of the year celebrations, and noted hot weather under a mid-day sun was uncomfortable for some attendees.
“So this year we’re moving the Australia Day citizenship ceremony to the evening before, so participants can enjoy clement conditions in a beautiful garden setting,” Mayor Hatcher said.
“This frees our new Aussies to fully enjoy their Australia Day public holiday with family and friends, and means your elected representatives can get out to attend other Australia Day activities. Certainly we’ve been contacted by some attendees thanking us for this time change,” he said.
“We’ve had a lot of the people getting their citizenship on that day contact us and say they’re very pleased it’s being moved so they can wake up as an Australian on Australia Day for the first time, and be with their family, and I’m an immigrant to Australia myself, so I know how important and how special that is to so many.
“In no way are we doing anything to cancel Australia Day, for us it’s just about finding better processes to make things happen.”
Image: Eurobodalla Shire Council