Australia Day events are already being dumped because of COVID-19 despite the public holiday being two months away – but one mayor is vowing to go ahead and is inviting others to take on ‘unpatriotic’ councils
- Several local Sydney councils have called off their Australia Day celebrations
- The councils dumped the festivities because of the coronavirus pandemic
- One mayor has slammed his fellow councils as ‘completely unacceptable’
- An Australia Day grant is available to fund any necessary health measures
Local councils have been slammed for dumping Australia Day celebrations because of the coronavirus pandemic, even with the ever reducing nationwide infection rate.
Several large-scale events scheduled for Sydney have been called off despite grants being available to pay for any increased health measures.
Mayor Steve Christou, from Cumberland City Council in western Sydney, called the cancellation of events ‘unpatriotic’ – and invited anyone who wanted to celebrate to come to his council.
‘I cannot believe these lazy and unpatriotic bedwetters that show no leadership whatsoever, occupying these positions in council and just putting this in the too hard basket,’ Cr Christou said.
Local councils across Sydney have dumped their Australia Day celebrations because of safety concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic (beachgoers pictured on Jan 26, 2019)
Several large-scale events have been completely called off (Sydney Harbour pictured in 2019)
Cumberland City Council mayor Steve Christou slammed the event cancellations as ‘unacceptable and unpatriotic’ and the councillors as ‘lazy and unpatriotic bedwetters’
‘To deny your residents a COVID safe Australia Day celebration is completely unacceptable and unpatriotic in my view.’
He said Cumberland City Council still planned to host an Australia Day celebration ‘in line with COVID regulations’ in Holroyd Gardens.
‘I welcome any Australian Citizen whose council has cancelled their Australia Day event to celebrate in Cumberland,’ Cr Christou said.
Federal Liberal MP Craig Kelly also said the pandemic was being used as an excuse to cancel Australia Day events.
‘Too many of our elected officials seem to get a buzz out of flexing their powers to cancel and ban things,’ he explained.
‘And many have been frothing at the bit to find an excuse to ban Australia Day celebrations.
‘When infection rates are already so low in Australia, and when it’s not a problem for 50,000 to turn up and crowd together in a football stadium earlier this week, cancelling outdoor Australia Day celebrations is a nonsense.’
The pandemic was seen as an excuse to cancel Australia Day celebrations (revellers pictured)
The National Australia Day Council has offered local governments and event organisers grants of up to $20,000 to fund any necessary health measures (celebrations pictured in 2019)
The National Australia Day Council has offered local governments and event organisers grants of up to $20,000 to fund any necessary health measures.
But Liverpool City Council has called off its outdoor Australia Day celebration and is working to develop a virtual alternative.
The Hills Shire has also cancelled its Australia Day concert at Bella Vista Farm.
‘With the restrictions in place – and in these challenging times of uncertainty – it was difficult for council to plan for this event,’ Mayor Michelle Byrne said.
Councils that have cancelled celebrations include Liverpool City Council, The Hills Shire and the Inner West Council (a woman pictured at Bondi Beach on Australia Day in 2019)
‘We would normally be well into preparation, but in the current climate, the financial risk is far too great and the health and safety of our residents is of the utmost importance.’
The Inner West Council scrapped its January 26 celebrations altogether last year and established a new summer-themed event held on a different date.
Inner West Council Mayor Darcy Byrne said the move was ‘the right thing to do’.
‘Attitudes towards 26 January are changing in the community,’ he explained.
‘For Aboriginal people, the date represents the beginning of colonisation, dispossession, the removal of children and deliberate destruction of language and culture.’
The NSW Government has not confirmed if all of its Australia Day events will go ahead and is still finalising the program.
The NSW Government has not yet confirmed if all of its Australia Day events will go ahead