A Sydney council has voted down a proposal to scrap Australia Day celebrations but will establish a memorial to Aboriginal people who died facing colonisation.
14 Feb 2018 - 8:50 AM  UPDATED 14 Feb 2018 - 9:22 AM

Inner West Council will establish a memorial to "commemorate the true history of invasion and colonisation" of Sydney but has rejected a push to drop Australia Day celebrations from January 26.

Inner West Greens councillor Tom Kiat moved a motion on Tuesday night which called on the council to ditch its Australia Day event on January 26 and acknowledge the date marks the "beginning of the British invasion" for Aboriginal people.

Cr Kiat proposed the council consider hosting or funding a commemoration of January 26, led by the Indigenous community instead.

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But to Cr Kiat's disappointment, it was voted down by a united front of Labor and Liberal councillors.

"I am disappointed that the Labor and Liberal councillors voted together against my motion," Cr Kiat told NITV News.

The proposal was amended so council would only have to consult on whether or not it should drop the celebration, but it was not enough to get the motion over the line.

"I will continue to work with Labor and progressive independent councillors to find a way for council to listen to the first nation's voices telling us loud and clear that January 26 is a day of invasion, mourning and survival, and an entirely inappropriate day for council to have an Australia Day event," he said.

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While council voted down the proposal, Mayor Darcy Byrne said it was time to "recognise the truth of colonisation" and backed plans for a memorial to Aboriginal people killed in the Frontier Wars.

"Australia was the scene of a frontier war that continued from 1788 to 1934," Mayor Byrne said.

"We've apologised to the Stolen Generation, but we still haven't acknowledged this devastating conflict," he said in a statement on Tuesday.

"It marks the beginning of invasion as well as the establishment of a prison in Sydney."

Council will work with the local Aboriginal community to create a memorial "that acknowledges the Aboriginal people who have given their life in the defence of their country". Council also voted to support a pilot Aboriginal language program at an early learning centre.

Yet Cr Kiat says Labor's attempt to find compromise is somewhat 'incoherent'.

"He says our current Australia Day event is respectful, yet it includes live bands and fireworks. He acknowledges January 26 is a day of mourning, yet insists it must remain our national day. He says the mood should be commemorative rather than celebratory, yet imagines this is consistent with citizenship ceremonies."

In fact, he divulged when it comes to Australia Day, most people agree that the day shouldn't be celebrated once they are informed about what happened.

"I think it’s a small minority of people who cling to this date. Most people realise it’s not a great day to have a national celebration once they are aware that it marks the beginning of invasion as well as the establishment of a prison in Sydney."


 

With AAP

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