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Local govt should stay out of debate I started, says councillor

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The Adelaide City councillor urging Lord Mayor Martin Haese to lobby the Federal Government against changing the date of Australia Day says councils should stay out of the issue, and focus on roads and rubbish instead.

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As InDaily revealed last week, South Ward councillor Alex Antic has submitted a motion for tomorrow night’s meeting, urging the council to publicly advocate a position on the date of Australia Day.

Indigenous activists have labelled January 26 “invasion day”, as it marks the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788.

If endorsed tomorrow evening, Antic’s motion would instruct Haese to write to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, to express support for the current date of Australia Day.

Despite submitting the motion, forcing the council to debate the issue in public, Antic says local government should not get involved in the issue.

He told ABC radio this morning that local governments have other priorities to focus on, and the matter should be left to the federal government.

“There are roads to fix and rubbish to take out,” he said.

“It’s a bit like a football team – you need to know your role.

“You don’t have your ruckman playing as a rover, and so-forth.”

In June, delegates at the Australian Local Government Association’s general assembly voted to encourage councils to consider lobbying the Federal Government to change the date of Australia Day.

Antic also penned a piece for The Advertiser arguing local government should not take a position on issues of “identity politics” such as the Australia Day debate.

“The Local Government Act says nothing about councils spending ratepayers money to take up the work of activist groups like GetUp,” Antic writes in the piece.

“I grew tired of local government being used as a vehicle for identity politics years ago, but this latest foray by the (Australian Local Government Association) into the realms of federal politics has left me speechless.

“I stood for election as a local councillor so that I could make a difference in my local community, not to fight on the front lines of gesture politics but sadly, this attack on our national day could not be left unaddressed.”

Antic argues Australians should be proud to celebrate their national day on January 26.

“It is the date upon which the rights we now take for granted were given birth,” he writes.

“Rights such as free speech, the right to a fair trial, the right to vote and the beginnings of our Westminster system all took root on this day.

“We have much to celebrate, and much of which to be proud.”

Antic’s piece concludes that: “We should be celebrating all parts of our multicultural society, including the achievements of our indigenous brothers and sisters. The Australian Local Government Association on the other hand, should concentrate on helping local councils fix their roads and take out their rubbish.”

Antic has not responded to InDaily‘s requests for comment.

The ALGA board did not endorse the delegates’ vote on the subject as the organisation’s formal policy.

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