The Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Alex Hawke, has stripped the City of Darebin of their power to hold citizenship ceremonies following the council’s passage of a political resolution cancelling Australia Day citizenship formalities.
This is the second time the Turnbull Government has stepped in of the citizenship process.
The Government will ensure prospective citizens within Darebin and Yarra Councils are allocated to citizenship ceremonies held by neighbouring councils while the Department of Immigration and Border Protection will hold ceremonies as demand requires, including on Australia Day 2018.
Mr Hawke dismissed false claims that Greens MPs could conduct their own citizenship ceremonies. “While Senators and Members may—with the Government’s authorisation and assistance—receive pledges of commitment; they must do so in accordance with the Australian Citizenship Ceremonies Code (‘the Code’),” he said.
“The Greens political party will not be allowed to hijack Australia Day through a small group of Greens controlled local councils. The overwhelming majority of Australians support Australia Day remaining on 26 January,” said Mr Hawke.
“We are committed to ensuring that citizenship is treated in the ‘non-commercial, apolitical, bipartisan and secular manner’ which the Code mandates. Both Darebin and Yarra Councils have had their ability to conduct citizenship ceremonies revoked”
— Alex Hawke
The Government will not permit a Senator or Member to circumvent the revocation of a council’s citizenship authority. Only ceremonies with authorisation from the Government will occur, subject to the ir compliance with the Code.
“We are committed to ensuring that citizenship is treated in the ‘non-commercial, apolitical, bipartisan and secular manner’ which the Code mandates. Both Darebin and Yarra Councils have had their ability to conduct citizenship ceremonies revoked. They were warned well in advance that politicising citizenship ceremonies would not be tolerated,” the Assistant Minister said.
As in the case of Yarra Council, a new instrument has been issued under the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 which removes the ability of office holders at the City of Darebin Council to receive a pledge of commitment at a citizenship ceremony.
Despite Darebin Council’s talk of inclusivity, the council surveyed a mere 81 citizens from a population of nearly 150,000.
The Council also failed to consult the only Indigenous Elder listed in the council’s own multicultural directory, Wurundjeri Elder Ian Hunter.
On 3AW this morning Mr Hunter distanced himself from the council’s decision, rejecting arguments for changing the date.
Darebin Mayor, Cr Kim le Cerf, told 3AW, “I didn’t say the majority of people were changing the day, I said the majority of people that have spoken to me support changing the day”, indicating she may reconsider her position.
“I would like to thank those Melbourne councils who have made offers to include prospective citizens from Darebin and Yarra in their own ceremonies. The Government will be working with these neighbouring councils to minimise the disruption to ratepayers in Darebin and Yarra,” said Mr Hawke.
“The Government will also ensure a citizenship ceremony is held on Australia Day 2018 in Yarra and Darebin for prospective citizens” he added.