Australia Day in Fremantle


Last night Fremantle Council had a full public gallery as we debated a range of complex issues. Most in the gallery were there to support the item on changing Freo’s Australia Fireworks. Council made a decision that it will not go ahead with fireworks to celebrate Australia Day in 2017 and beyond.

The City will instead be presenting a family-friendly event to celebrate being Australian on an alternative date. This will be an occasion people can all celebrate together. The date and details of this new event will be revealed once finalised.

What are  the reasons behind this council decision?

There has been a growing movement that January 26 is increasingly becoming a day that is ‘not for all Australians’. For many Aboriginal Australians it is indeed a day of sadness and dispossession. This does not just refer to Indigenous involvement but the involvement of many other Australians who feel increasingly uncomfortable with the date and what it represents.

The City has received significant feedback supporting the idea of reimagining our Australia Day celebrations from both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.

I was proud last night to see Fremantle Council support this change in what I hope will see a wave of change across the nation that will see Australia Day fundamentally shift to a more inclusive and respectful approach.

While there were some concerns from the Freo business community I am confident that we can create a new inclusive event that will give us bigger bang for buck and bring more people into Fremantle on a day when more businesses can benefit. Fremantle

Of course some accuse the Council of just being overly politically correct but I think this misses the point. It’s about respect and inclusion.



About Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt's blog
City of Fremantle Mayor

40 Responses to Australia Day in Fremantle

  1. Robert Frith says:

    Great news! Apart from the cultural issues, water, air and noise pollution from fireworks is no longer a reasonable price to pay for celebrations.

  2. The downtown fireworks are going to be absolutely packed.

  3. Maryanne says:

    I thnk that’s a pathetic decision. Grovelling PC gone mad. Shame on you and I hope you cop heaps.

    • Emma says:

      So it looks like you failed on reading the Neil Gaiman quote at the bottom so let me just fix your quote for you.
      “I thnk that’s a pathetic decision. Grovelling treating other people with respect gone mad. Shame on you and I hope you cop heaps.”
      Yeah, doesn’t quite work the same does it?

    • megpie71 says:

      As per the Gaiman quote above: “Grovelling treating people with respect gone mad”, surely.

  4. freoview says:

    I believe Council made the right decision and that this is about acknowledging the hurt of our indigenous people. Invasion Day is the worst day to celebrate Australia as a nation and should be moved to the day we became a federation. Fremantle Council’s decisions shows clearly we don’t take Aboriginal people for granted here and that they should just suck it up and get used to the pain the past has caused. Well done Fremantle!

    Roel Loopers

    • If you use the events of the past as an excuse not to move forward then you are doomed to live a life of misery and hatred. For some it will always be a day of hatred and loathing but for others it is a day to celebrate so I guess you will spend it wishing the white man had never stepped foot on this country but they did and you cant change that no matter how much you despise it.

  5. David Colkin says:

    Disgraceful decision.

  6. A divisive decision that will not bring people together but rather it will further divide this great nation and no matter what day you celebrate Australia Day there will be those who claim its all about dispossesstion and sadness or whatever their latest grumble is about. Its time people put the past behind them and stopped using it as an excuse for everything that is wrong in their society and started to look at ways to drag themselves out of the mess and not let something we had no control over all those years ago drag them back into the pool of hatred and self loathing that many find themselves in. This decision will be the City of Perths gain and Freos loss as even though I find fire crackers boring many young people love them and it brings many people to this dying city.

  7. frendyjerit says:

    So very pleased about the outcome of your meeting. Hoping that the rest of Australia follows… and soon! I live in Wanneroo and my dream is to eventually live in a tiny house in Freo.

  8. Anne Dennis says:

    Shame shame shame to bow to pc and encourage this to be bolstered n given creedance. I am completly offended as to your council decision to “change” Australia Day to appease some groups in the community by inclusiveness and alienate others in that same community group. Whats next Change ANZAC Day??? Cancel Christmas and Easter?? Shame shame shame!

    • megpie71 says:

      They’re not “changing Australia Day” – they’re just declining to fund a huge fireworks presentation in order to celebrate it.

      Australia Day won’t be any less of a public holiday because there aren’t fireworks in Fremantle. There will almost certainly still be citizenship ceremonies for new arrivals involving the Fremantle council. There will still be beaches to picnic on, and if Australia Day is a Monday, the Fremantle Markets will probably be open. You’ll still be able to get your fish and chips at Cicerellos. There just won’t be a fireworks display, that’s all – and from the sound of things there’s going to be another celebration added to the Fremantle civic calendar in order to celebrate the full diversity of the peoples of Australia, both immigrant and Indigenous.

      • If the Freo council was serious about respecting the feelings of some aboriginal people they would ban ALL Australia Day celebrations and not have a day off work and ignore the day completely but to just ban an expensive fireworks show and claim it is a sign of respect is both dishonest and an insult to the same people it is concerned about.

      • Ed
        I am not sure I agree. Fremantle is not cancelling Australia Day as it has been reported.
        Australia Day will obviously still happen and people can treat the day as the wish. The City of Fremantle is merely no longer funding fireworks on that day as we have done for the past 6 years. We are instead using the money saved to do a range of other more inclusive events which will still bring many thousands of people to Fremantle on a range of days.
        I believe this has the potential to be both more culturally appropriate and still have a positive economic impact for Fremantle. This is a real win-win in my view.
        cheers, Brad

      • megpie71 says:

        In reply to edmonsongarbo: The Fremantle City Council can’t “ban” Australia Day or remove its public holiday status, because Australia Day is a federal public holiday. What the Fremantle City Council is doing is what they can do within their own power and purview to consider the preferences and feelings of the Indigenous community within the Fremantle region – and one of those things is reducing the amount of visible “celebration” of an invasion which has never been officially acknowledged by ANY level of government in Australia, and which is still ongoing even today (in that Indigenous people are still treated as being second class citizens of this country, and they’re still able to be killed in the street without it even being named as murder. We’ve moved up from classifying them as “wildlife”, but not by much).

      • What a load of emotional rubbish. If the council was serious and wanted to not offend the minority who find Australia Day so disturbing then it would not fund any events on that day and refuse to acknowledge it altogether but they are only refusing to fund the expensive fireworks. As for your rant about Aboriginals getting killed in our streets I can only guess you are referring to the recent death of the young lad in Boulder and a person has been charged over the death and the courts will decide his guilt or otherwise and his charge may be upgraded depending on the evidence given at the hearing. As his Grandfather wishes it is best to leave the results up to our legal system and NOT inflame the situation with emotional out bursts.

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  10. This is fantastic news. Been in country for 5 years and Australia Day celebrations have always confused me and many of my friends and family. Happy to see a new celebration for ‘New Beginnings’ with a focus on traditional land owners and all their cultural heritage as its not taught in schools and for attitudes to change in the future our children need to learn the stories of how this true land was created.

  11. Errol S Nilson says:

    The decision by these gutless people who are paid by the ratepayers is a disgrace to our Diggers and Australia as a whole. It can only divide Australia. Australia Day is the 26th of January , so leave it alone and hands off our flag!!!!!!!!

    • Errol
      Not sure what this has to do with digger and flags. Neither of these are changing.
      cheers, Brad

    • megpie71 says:

      What we’re “celebrating” on the 26th of January is the anniversary of a bunch of illegal boat people landing on the east coast of this landmass, and annexing the entire landmass in the name of a colonial power half a world away, having declared the land to be “empty”, regardless of the known existence of human occupants. What is there in that to be celebrating?

      (I mean, aside from the fact that no other government has attempted to do something similar here. Let’s face it, the tactic’s worked once…)

      If we were celebrating the birth of Australia as a nation, then the celebration should be on the 1st of January (and we’re thus celebrating it 25 days too late). Instead, the rest of the country gets pulled into celebrations for what’s effectively “Foundation Day for NSW”. Yay?

  12. kim scott says:

    thank you FCC. Beautiful and bold.


  13. Peter says:

    Well done!

  14. Louise Allan says:

    What a courageous decision, and I totally support you and what you’re trying to do. May this be the start of nationwide change. Love the Neil Gaiman quote, too. Thank you.

  15. Rob says:

    Brad, You and the team have done some good things over the years, but I wish you had taken the time to have a conversation with the Fremantle people over this one instead of running of and dong your own thing. Sorry, but its a bad decision, divisive, poorly communicated, very poorly communicated, rightly criticised by respected aboriginal leaders and to be honest if its about cutting the cost of the event, you should have just come out and said it.

  16. Barbara Timms says:

    I thought Captain Cook had a boatload of explorers, botanists and artists … hardly qualifies as an invasion!

    • Barbara, I don’t think that covers the impact of the first fleets accurately. Brad

      • Barbara Timms says:

        I agree – the later impacts were more confrontational. That still doesn’t make Australia Day the anniversary of an invasion. Some of the results of the discovery and development of Australia have been good, some have been bad – just like every other country in the world throughout history where one strong developed community has taken over a less capable group. We can’t change what happened over 200 years ago. We somehow have to learn to live with it and accept our history. It is what happened. We need to move on, and make sure that that event does not continue to rule our everyday lives, look for the good in it, remember the bad and make sure that we all work together to improve everyone’s lives.

  17. Tony Downing says:

    Council has right to interfere. It is not a tier of government. It is a council. Collect the garbage & fix the roads. Leave politics to actual politicians. Councils can be fined or jailed if they impose laws upon Australian citizens that fall outside of the local government act.

    • freoview says:

      It’s not a law or anything unlawful Fremantle Council is doing, Tony. They started the fireworks as an event and now are changing the event without fireworks. There is no federal or state law that requires local councils to have fireworks on Australia Day, I doubt there is even a law that requires councils to put up events. It’s a public holiday where many councils do nothing, but Freo will have three days of activities.

      Roel Loopers

      • Rob says:

        Thats he point you miss Roel. Its not owned by this council, its owned by the people who were not consulted.

  18. freoishome says:

    I have no doubt that this decision was made with best intent. However, it feels inadequate. In my professional life I was employed as a Problem Solver. Often, too often, these start as solutions, and progress without stepping back to ask why. What is the problem or need? This situation has that feel about it. What is the problem the Council is trying to fix or improve?

    The public holiday will still exist!
    The public ceremonies will still occur, eg, Council level Honours, Citizenship, with Civic and Aboriginal dignitaries present, festivities of other kinds.

    Personally, I don’t see the need for Freo to have the addition of fireworks on this holiday. It has always been Perth’s day, ie, the whole metro. Freo has fireworks for Blessing the Fleet; I could get upset about that as a Humanist, ie, why make even more of religions than we already do, but, it isn’t a battle worth having.

    What could we have done with that money instead, the opportunity cost? Would that sum have made an impact on the wardens cottages annual maintenance, would it have kept the Fly By Night building operating?


    • Paul
      Youare right: Fremantle is not cancelling Australia Day as it has been reported.
      Australia Day will obviously still happen and people can treat the day as the wish. The City of Fremantle is merely no longer funding fireworks on that day as we have done for the past 6 years. We are instead using the money saved to do a range of other more inclusive events which will still bring many thousands of people to Fremantle on a range of days.
      I believe this has the potential to be both more culturally appropriate and still have a positive economic impact for Fremantle. This is a real win-win in my view.
      BTW The Warders Cottages are owned by the State Government not Freo and the Fly is operating in Vic Hall
      cheers, Brad

  19. Australia day in Fremantle will now be huge! I expect the compensating patriotism and myriad of private firework shows could get ugly though.

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