Tas. councils keep out of date fight
The Local Government Association of Tasmania (LGAT) has voted against lobbying to change the date of Australia Day.
There is a growing movement to change the date of Australia Day from January 26, when the British occupation of Australia began, to a day that less directly connects to the destruction of Indigenous culture.
Tasmanian councils had considered joining the push to change the date, but voted down a motion 27 votes to 26, with five councils abstaining, at the LGAT conference this week.
Hobart Lord Mayor Sue Hickey said her “pale, male and stale” colleagues were out of touch on the issue.
“When I look around [at the conference] the average person there would be well and truly over their 60s … certainly I don't think local government is as representative as I'd like it to be with some of the modern thinking around such issues as marriage equality and changing to be more inclusive for Australia Day and Aboriginal people,” she said.
“I don't want to insult my older male colleagues but I do think times are changing and some of these social issues are up for debate.
“Councils are the closest tier to the people and we'd better start listening because the younger generation, who are not so engaged with local government, are definitely protesting.”
LGAT president Doug Chipman said constituents did not appear to be invigorated on the issue.
“Many of the councils didn't support it because their communities weren't upset and therefore they didn't see that they had a mandate to support the motion,” he said.
“You have to bear in mind that the councils have an obligation to represent their communities and for those councils where their communities do have strong protests every Australia Day, clearly there was support for the motion.
“For those councils [where] the community hasn't raised it as an issue then they didn't feel as though this was the right forum to initiate the debate.”