Hey mate, a festival for all is ace

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If those against the City of Wanneroo’s new festival stop getting hot under the collar they might just enjoy it.

OPINION

IT will be a shame if a new event to involve Noongars, white Australians and many other ethnicities in an inclusive event in Wanneroo on the afternoon of January 26 flops.

It will be an even bigger shame if the event, which probably started out as a way to save ratepayers some money, is canned because the words Australia Day were not added to material advertising the event.

The City of Wanneroo is still holding its big citizenship ceremony as its main Australia Day event at the Wanneroo Showgrounds during the morning of Sunday, January 26.

At no stage during the past few months have councillors voted to stop holding the citizenship ceremony, which this year will result in 1000 residents from 65 countries becoming Australian citizens.

They also have not voted on changing the name of the citizenship ceremony.

Also today, November 14 Yanchep Two Rocks Community Association president Julie Otremba said there were no changes proposed for the annual Australia Day Breakfast held in Two Rocks.

So City of Wanneroo residents should be able to do what they usually do on Australia Day plus they can also if they want to attend the new event the council voted to introduce back in July.

The new event, which the city has called the Wanneroo Festival, will be held at the showgrounds but will not start until 4pm.

In a statement the city said the Wanneroo Festival would be a lively, family-friendly event with fireworks and performances from local celebrities to celebrate and showcase the many cultures that contribute to the Wanneroo population.

One of the reasons the city has given for holding the multicultural festival on the same day as the citizenship ceremony, which costs about $133,000 to run, is so it can make better use of the big marquee it hires for the event.

All the councillors at the city’s July 30 council meeting voted unanimously for a recommendation to approve a multicultural festival to be held on January 26 although there was no mention that the festival would simply be called the Wanneroo Festival.

But the recommendation the councillors all voted for included a note that the city’s multicultural advisory group and reconciliation action plan working group would be invited to contribute to the ongoing planning and implementation of the proposed multicultural festival.

This implied that all councillors accepted some Noongar and other ethnic components to the festival would be proposed and implemented.

Some of the councillors who voted at the July 30 meeting are no longer on the council.

At the November 12 council meeting North Coast ward councillor Linda Aitken introduced a motion, which she had foreshadowed the week before, asking for Australia Day to be mentioned on the promotional material for the multicultural festival.

Cr Aitken said back in July there had been no mention of deleting Australia Day from promotional material.

North Coast ward councillor Chris Baker, who was not a councillor when the recommendation  was passed on July 30, wanted the event to be called the Wanneroo Multicultural Festival.

Cr Baker said Australia Day was a day people should celebrate and if people wanted to commiserate there was (National) Sorry Day.

Mayor Tracey Roberts was critical of the dissenting councillors for not raising the name issue earlier.

Cr Roberts said the way the issue had been publicised had led the community to incorrectly think the city had cancelled Australia Day.

The next day it was reported by other media outlets that MHR Christian Porter, who often attends the city’s citizenship ceremonies but was not at the council meeting, had accused the council of lecturing ratepayers on issues such as the appropriateness of celebrating Australia Day and called for the decision to be overturned.

Both the City of Wanneroo and Mr Porter were contacted for comment but did not respond before publication.