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‘The federal government’s being played’: Anti-Australia Day council works loophole

Deborah Knight

Byron Bay has backed down from an Australia Day boycott and will now hold citizenship ceremonies on January 26… but they’re not completely obliging.

The Byron Shire Council originally decided last month to move all Australia Day events to another day out of respect to Indigenous Australians.

Prime Minister Scott Morrisson was among the first to criticise the council’s anti-Australia Day stance, saying restoring the status quo is a welcomed move.

But former Labor leader Mark Latham says “the status quo hasn’t been restored”.

“If you read the fine print here from [Byron Shire Council], they’re actually treating Scott Morrison as a mug,” he tells Deborah Knight.

“Because the tradition is that on Australia Day, our great national day, the 26th of January, the council would have Australia Day awards, signatories making speeches, festivities and a citizenship ceremony.

“Byron Bay has now got itself into a situation where it’s going to have its Australia Day awards and speeches and some festivities on the 25th of January, the previous day.

“But to avoid the federal government punishment of losing their citizenship ceremony powers, they’re actually going to have a token ceremony on Australia Day itself, which is really so half-baked.

“The federal government’s being played as mugs here.”

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