Mayoral Minute: Council is celebrating Australia Day

I don’t take Mayoral Minutes lightly, but I think a correction of the record is warranted in relation to this Council’s acknowledgement of Australia Day.

So, to set the record straight:

Cairns Regional Council has always celebrated the gazetted federal public holiday and our national day – Australia Day, as we will again this year on 26 January 2024.

We have three signature event programs within a week of Australia Day.

I will be officiating Council’s premier Citizenship Ceremony this Friday (Australia Day), where we will celebrate the region’s newest Australians.

The Federal Government has given Councils the choice to reschedule their Citizenship Ceremonies to an alternate date, however I opted to retain 26 January as the most appropriate date for this ceremony, the National Day of Australia.

I am sure that, yet again, the 26 January will be a significant and memorable day for these community members as we warmly welcome them to their new life in Cairns. The media are always invited to join in this special occasion.

To the Cairns Citizen of the Year Awards – last year Mayor Bob Manning opted to shift the focus of the 2023 and 2024 awards.

He provided the following quote to the Cairns Post to go on public record, over a year ago stating that: “The decision to revert the name of Council’s awards back to Cairns Citizen of the Year Awards, was to ensure that the focus of the awards is on the recipients – their merits, achievements, and actions as exemplary citizens of Cairns.”

This is, quite literally, old news.

I don’t want to speak for Mr Manning, but my interpretation of this statement is: where there is a lot of public discourse around the merits of celebrating this date, it would be unfair for those nominated for that debate to distract from their achievements, which we are honouring.

While the event was never held on Australia Day itself, but usually the day prior, this year it is scheduled to take place within a week of January 26.

The Australia Day Community Events have been specifically marketed to focus on ‘family fun’.

From all reports, this marketing angle has resulted in a bigger take up of young families and children participating in these positive events where the Cairns community come to together to celebrate what we know and love about Australia – swimming in the pool, barbecues, games, music and fun with family and friends.

My understanding is that we have had only good community feedback about these events to date, which is all about community coming together to celebrate and not detracting from that.

Notwithstanding, I acknowledge that this is a date that means different things to different people, and we respect that is up to community members to decide what this day means for them.

However, Cairns Regional Council does not diverge from the date of 26 January as the National Day of Australia.

I put to you, the following resolution:

Cairns Regional Council recognises 26 January as ‘Australia Day’, in accordance with the federally gazetted public holiday as our national day.

(The resolution was adopted unanimously by Council.)

/Public Release. View in full here.