Byron Shire Council has changed the date for Australia Day.
Byron Shire Council has changed the date for Australia Day. Derek Brumby

Council to change Australia Day date

BYRON Shire Council will move its Australia Day event forward a day in order to acknowledge that January 26 marks "the day the cultural decimation and denigration of the first Australians began".

The topic attracted a lengthy and passionate discussion during council's September meeting on an issue of which "every year the debate gets bigger".

Mayor Simon Richardson put a motion forward proposing the 2019 Australia Day event be moved to the evening of January 25.

During the meeting he said, "no one wants Australia Day on the 26th".

"Most people see the day as Triple J Hottest 100, a day at the beach and maybe going back to work," he said.

In a report Cr Richardson said "currently, Australia Day symbolises great sorrow and pain amongst indigenous mobs whilst many non-aboriginal Australians feel uneasy or conflicted celebrating our nation on this day".

He said debate around this was not going away and changing the date to celebrate 24 hours earlier would suffice "until an obvious date became apparent".

"I believe Byron... has an opportunity to help the nation make the transition away from the historical problem of this date."

Other councils including Melbourne's Darebin and Yarra councils, have already voted to stop holding citizenship ceremonies on January 26.

In response, the federal government stripped those councils of their right to hold citizenship ceremonies.

Cr Spooner voted against the motion and said "you don't change the reality of history by changing the day of the event".

"The motion hasn't come from the indigenous people in our community, it's come from the mayor, and individual," Cr Spooner said.

"There's no real agreement on the issue.

"Motions like this one run the risk of creating a division.

"It's a national public holiday, it's set by the Federal government."

Cr Cameron, who voted for said "it was not up to Indigenous people" but up to council to change the date "out of respect".

Cr Hackett voted against and said she thought the issue should be delayed and put to the public.

Cr Ndiaye said Australia 26 "was a day of mourning".

"I can't believe how slowly this issue has been addressed. It's a national shame.

"More and more councils are acknowledging this is not the right day to be doing these things."

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