Australia Day 2017 at Tannum Sands.
Australia Day 2017 at Tannum Sands. Mike Richards GLA260117TANNUM

Australia Day issue to be presented to Gladstone council

GLADSTONE Region councillor Glenn Churchill is preparing a report for council regarding his June trip to the Australian Local Government Association.

One of the items on Cr Churchill's agenda will be the motion for councils to consider ways they could lobby the Federal Government to switch the date of Australian Day from January 26.

More than 800 delegates attended the June 18-21 National General Assembly in Canberra, which brought people together to discuss motions, hear from politicians from all sides of government and keynote speakers.

Almost 100 submissions where brought forward by various councils which were debated, voted on and become a resolution of the conference.

However perhaps the most polarising submission was number 52, brought forward by Hobart City Council.

The submission's outcome was "that the National General Assembly encourage Australian councils to consider efforts they could take to lobby the Federal Government to change the date of recognition of Australia Day".

The motion was carried by a slender margin of 62 in favour and 60 opposed.

Cr Glenn Churchill.Photo Paul Braven / The Observer
Cr Glenn Churchill Paul Braven GLA050416COUNCIL

Cr Churchill said both sides had a chance to argue their case.

"It was a robust debate. Especially when you have representatives from inner-city councils and spokespersons for Indigenous communities putting up their side of the argument," Cr Churchill said.

"It was a very close vote if anyone would have voted the other way it would've been a 61-split, so that's how close it was.

"I listened to both sides of the argument and I voted in favour, but in understanding the intent of the motion - it's not necessarily to change the date, but to advocate to the Australian Government for their consideration of changing the date - is there a need to change the date?

"If there's no need then accept it.

"At the end of the day the responsibility is with the Australian government."

Cr Churchill stated that Gladstone Regional Council are very good friends with the Indigenous community and were well aware of their feelings in relation to Australia Day.

The former police officer did advocate, albeit rather tongue in cheek, for a different date.

"If they were ever going to change the date they should make it May 8 and call it Mate Day," he said.

"I think the key to any consideration of leaving or changing the date is it has to be inclusive for all Australians to celebrate."

Cr Churchill used the example of Anzac Day where all Australians come together, citing that Australia Day should be the same.

He also said informal talks took place within council after his return from ALGA.

"Those informal discussions were based on that there was a motion on the books," Cr Churchill said.

"This is a growing matter that needs to be resolved."