The Wimmera’s smaller councils could be exempt from a federal government plan dictating the dates of citizenship ceremonies.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Immigration Minister David Coleman this week announced plans to change the Australian Citizenship Ceremonies Code to require councils to host such ceremonies on Australia Day, January 26 and Australian Citizenship Day, September 17.
They also mooted plans to introduce a dress code at ceremonies.
However, the office of Mallee MP Andrew Broad has since confirmed Council areas with no new conferees for citizenship will not have to hold ceremonies.
“The Government recognises there may be cases where a council will be unable to host a citizenship ceremony on Australia Day,” a spokesperson said in a statement to the Mail-Times.
“The Government has written to councils asking for feedback on the new Code. Councils will have until February 28 to provide any feedback.”
Horsham council hosts multiple citizenship ceremonies throughout the year, however other Wimmera councils do not.
Yarriambiack Shire Mayor Graeme Massey said the council only conducted citizenship ceremonies when requested.
“It usually happens after a council meeting, and that has been the case since we amalgamated in the nineties,” Cr Massey said.
“Since I’ve been mayor, there have only been two ceremonies in three years, so there is not a massive demand for them.”
Cr Massey said a family of four is set to receive their citizenship in February, after accepting a date offered to them by the council. The mayor said it didn’t suit the family’s plans to hold it on Australia Day.
The local government is set to flesh out its position on the Federal Government’s plan during the public forum following next week’s meeting.
Horsham Mayor Mark Radford said the city’s traditional citizenship ceremony would return on Australia Day this year. He said members of the Aboriginal community participated in citizenship ceremonies through their welcome to country.
"There will always be people in our community who question the date both in the Aboriginal community and the non-Aboriginal community, but in Horsham I think it would be fair to say what we do on Australia Day is pretty well received by most.
“We hold the ceremonies throughout the year because we've had so many requests for new citizens.”
Hindmarsh Shire Council Mayor Ron Ismay said the next citizenship ceremony would be held on February 15, and that Australia Day didn’t suit the recipients as a time.
Cr Ismay said the Shire’s Aboriginal community did not heavily attend the existing Australia Day events.