Australia Day Controversy Continues

Australia Day Controversy Continues

By Erin Archer


The city of Yarra has made headlines again, however this time it has come from far right protesters who stormed an evening council meeting, who were unhappy about the decision to scrap Australia Day celebrations.

On Tuesday night the group interrupted the meeting at Richmond Town Hall, by carrying Australian flags and protest signs, all the while shouting and chanting into megaphones.

It all comes after Yarra City Council voted unanimously to drop all it’s official Australia Day celebrations in respect for Aboriginal people, and to support the ‘Change The Date’ campaign, in which it drew extremely strong criticism nationwide, including from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The move even prompted the Federal Government to strip Yarra Council of it’s powers to hold citizenship ceremonies, however mayor Amanda Stone has defended the move and said the local community and members of the indigenous community, felt January 26 was associated with “sadness, trauma and distress”.

Members of the protest group which temporarily halted the Tuesday night meeting, are allegedly part of the Party for Freedom, which describes themselves as “a patriotic party dedicated to building a viable alternative to the major treasonous political parties.”

They were filmed as they chanted “Aussie pride, nationwide”, and clutching signs that read “Love it, or leave it”, and while admitting it was “a bit strange” Mayor Stone said the protesters were not a threat to those at the meeting.

There were concerns about violence because of the “unpredictable” nature of the protesters but everything was resolved peacefully, she said.

However the story does delve a little deeper than just passionate Australian patriots protesting for something they believe in.

One of the protest members was Neil Erikson, who only hours before leading the disruptive protest, was found guilty of inciting serious contempt for Muslims for staging a mock beheading in Bendigo in 2015.

The Federal Government, while rejecting the action of the protesters, said they still don’t support the idea of local councils deciding that Australia Day should be on a different day.

Here is Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Alex Hawke, speaking to Sky News about the government’s stance on changing the date.

This view is disputed among some groups around the nation however, from political parties to musicians.

The Greens are in the process of asking the Senate to support a motion to change the date, as they believe Australia day should be a time to come together as a community and celebrate the nation’s diverse, open and free society.

“But January 26 is not that day.”

Meanwhile, prominent Indigenous rap duo A.B Original have been loud and constant supporters of the ‘Change The Date’ campaign, turning heads and spreading awareness with their powerful song “January 26”.

In an interview with the ABC’s 7:30 Program earlier this year, Briggs and Trials said their song was meant to start a conversation about the issue of Australia Day, and what it means for Indigenous people.

“I think that’s the only way logically I see forward, is a conversation on a national level where everyone has a voice, you know, and the voice of the people who are disenfranchised is put on blast through a megaphone,” said Trails.

About author

earche04 72 posts

Erin joined the NRN team straight after graduating from a Bachelor of Communications (Journalism) at Charles Sturt University in 2016.

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