PM a ‘bully’ over Australia Day move
A MELBOURNE mayor who wants massacres against Aborigines recited on Australia Day has accused the federal government of bullying councils over the national day.
City of Port Phillip Mayor Dick Gross backs the retention of the January 26 celebration, but has also called for a solemn ceremony in the morning to acknowledge historical wrongs against indigenous people.
The proposal is yet to go before the council, with Port Phillip this year holding its usual Australia Day festivities including a welcome to country by local indigenous group the Boon Wurrung.
Cr Gross said that his idea was designed to make the national day more "palatable to all Australians" by including a "morning of mourning" ceremony followed by an uplifting and celebratory citizenship ceremony.
"We can't go as a nation divided on this fundamental issue," he said.
Cr Gross said the morning event would involve an indigenous person reciting massacres against Aborigines, possibly with musical accompaniment.
On the weekend, PM Scott Morrison announced new rules to ensure anti-Australia Day celebrations councils like Yarra and Darebin are forced to hold citizenship ceremonies on the day.
The revised citizenship ceremonies code won't be introduced until 2020, with the government gearing up for an election-year fight against a Greens-led campaign to change the date of Australia Day.
But Cr Gross said that Mr Morrison's politically-motivated policy was over the top.
"He's being a bully, and the way to persuade people is to persuade them by the power of your argument, not punish them," he said.
Cr Gross, an ALP member, first raised his Australia Day proposal in September but withdrew it from a council meeting agenda following a backlash after the Herald Sun revealed his plan.
At the time, free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs dismissed it as "just more empty posturing by the social justice warriors on inner city councils".
"Australia Day is, and always should be, a day of celebration … the day on which the values of western civilisation reached our shores," said the IPA's Gideon Rozner.