While Australia Day has been and gone, another Victorian Nationals member has added their voice to the opposition’s pledge to keep the country’s national day as January 26 if elected in November.
State Member for Northern Victoria Luke O’Sullivan said the move was in the interest of protecting community Australia Day celebrations.
He took a swipe at Victorian councils that turned their back on recognising January 26 as Australia Day and described the councils as appearing ‘‘obsessed with federal and state government issues instead of focusing on the job they were elected to do provide community services’’.
Mr O’Sullivan said if elected in November, the Opposition would amend the Local Government Act to make sure all councils had citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day and recognised January 26 as the country’s national day.
Most Greater Shepparton councillors told the News they did not support moving Australia Day from January 26.
Mr O’Sullivan believed Victorians were ‘‘tired of local councils inserting themselves into national and state political debates around national identity, particularly over the date of Australia’s national day’’.
The Federal Government stripped Victorian councils of their right to host citizenship ceremonies after they voted to shift ceremonies to other dates.
Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge said Australia Day was the most popular day of the year for new migrants to become citizens.
‘‘If councils don’t want to hold them, then we’ll give those citizenship ceremonies to other organisations,’’ he said.
Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy last week committed to changing the Local Government Act if there was a change of government in November.
Police Minister Lisa Neville said Mr Guy’s proposal was ‘‘grand standing’’ and maintained council elections were the best way to change policies.