Wagga’s mayor has cautioned the government against forcing local councils to host citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day.
Councillor Greg Conkey said although Wagga will continue to host ceremonies on the national public holiday, the federal government gives no remuneration for the cost of events.
His comments follow Prime Minister Scott Morrison announcing that councils will be forced to have the ceremonies on Australia Day in response to a handful of municipalities voting to move citizenship events out of respect for Indigenous people.
“We conduct around 10 to 11 citizenship ceremonies per year and at no remuneration from the federal government and it costs between $10,000 t0 $15,000,” he said.
“Which is not cheap but we believe it is a special occasion and we like to make it a special event for these new Australians.”
Councillor Conkey said it is debatable whether councils be can be forced to host an event for which they are not compensated for.
“We as Wagga City Council believe Australia Day is very significant and it’s a great honour for people to be naturalised on Australia Day,” he said.
“We will continue to conduct them on that day.
“While we totally support it...I think it should be up to individual councils to determine whether it’s appropriate to host them on Australia Day.”
Immigration Minister David Coleman said the move would ensure every person being given citizenship had the chance to do so on January 26.
"Councils will no longer be able to say no to Australia Day," he told reporters in Queensland.
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