The City of Unley in Adelaide is facing intense backlash and calls for community consultation after cancelling its Australia Day community event. The decision to scrap the event was made without any public consultation, which has enraged ratepayers and led to widespread criticism.
In May, the City of Unley, along with three other South Australian councils, had already decided to shift its citizenship and award ceremonies to the day before Australia Day. However, the decision to cancel the Australia Day event altogether has sparked outrage among residents.
Councillor Jack Gaffey, who voted against the decision, acknowledged that the issue had generated a significant amount of public feedback. He stated, “I’ve received more emails and phone calls than I can remember on any particular issue.” Despite the flood of complaints, the council voted 8-4 to proceed with the cancellation.
The cancellation of the Australia Day event is especially disheartening for Unley resident David Sims, who became an Australian citizen in a ceremony held on January 26 in 1998. Sims expressed his disappointment, saying, “It was really memorable, and I really enjoyed it. It’s so sad that it has been taken away from new Australians now.”
Interestingly, Mayor Michael Hewitson declined an on-camera interview, citing the expense and potential lack of representation of public consultations. The council justified its decision by pointing to ongoing public protests and the divisive nature of the January 26 date.
The controversy surrounding the cancellation of the Australia Day event has sparked a petition called “Save Australia Day,” which aims to gather 5,000 signatures. According to the petition, Australia Day is considered essential for Australians of all backgrounds, as it represents a day of unity and pride.
As the debate rages on, it is clear that the decision made by the City of Unley has deeply divided the community. Many residents feel that their voices were not heard and that the cancellation of the event undermines the significance of Australia Day. The council’s reasons for the cancellation are also being called into question, as some argue that public consultations are necessary to ensure that decisions represent the views and values of the community.
Moving forward, it remains to be seen how the City of Unley will address the public backlash and calls for community consultation. However, one thing is certain – the controversy surrounding the cancellation of the Australia Day event has highlighted the importance of open dialogue and inclusive decision-making processes in local government.