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  • Writer's pictureHannah Phillips

Citizenship role stripped from City of Yarra

Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Alex Hawke on Wednesday stripped the power of the City of Yarra from conducting citizenship ceremonies after they tried to change Australia Day.

He issued a new instrument under the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 which removes the ability of office holders at the City of Yarra Council to receive a pledge of commitment at a citizenship ceremony.

Mr Hawke said the Turnbull Government would not tolerate Yarra Council’s use of citizenship ceremonies as a political device in a campaign against Australia Day being celebrated on January 26.

“We are committed to ensuring that citizenship is treated in the ‘non-commercial, apolitical, bipartisan and secular manner’ which the Code mandates,” Mr Hawke said.

“The instrument I have signed today means there will be no more citizenship ceremonies conducted by the City of Yarra on behalf of the Government.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull today expressed his deep disappointment at the Yarra Council decision. “On Australia Day, we celebrate what’s great about our wonderful nation.

An attack on Australia Day is a repudiation of the values the day celebrates: freedom, a fair go, mateship and diversity,” he said.

“Yarra council is using a day that should unite Australians to divide Australians.

“I recognise Australia Day and its history is complex for many indigenous Australians, but the overwhelming majority of Australians believe the 26th of January is the day and should remain our national day,” Mr Turnbull said.

Mr Hawke has also written today to Minister for Local Government and Territories Senator Fiona Nash, asking that the she examine the proportion of Commonwealth Government funding provided to Yarra Council for the purpose of conducting citizenship ceremonies, with a view to that funding being reconsidered following today’s revocation decision.

“It is regrettable that Yarra Council has proceeded with this course of action. I note that other Councils, including Fremantle and Hobart made the sensible decision to comply with the Code rather than risk losing their ability to conduct citizenship ceremonies,” he said.

“I am surprised and disappointed that the City of Yarra has chosen to pursue this divisive approach”.

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