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Aus day citizenship ceremony for Freo

AAP logoAAP 9/12/2016 Rebecca Gredley

The City of Fremantle will hold citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day rather than January 28 after being given an ultimatum by the federal government.

The council had moved its traditional January 26 Australia Day events to January 28 because of cultural sensitivities.

Mayor Brad Pettitt said the council had been excited about giving people the opportunity to become Australian citizens during the One Day in Fremantle festival on that date.

But assistant immigration minister Alex Hawke told Dr Pettitt the Commonwealth would not allow the City of Fremantle to hold citizenship ceremonies as part of the planned January 28 events because it would give an anti-Australia Day message.

"This was never about the citizenship ceremony," Dr Pettitt told ABC radio on Friday.

"It was about offering people what we thought would be a really inclusive alternative celebration to Australia Day, two days later, which was meant to be inclusive, another option, another choice, rather than telling people what they should or shouldn't do."

Mr Hawke welcomed the decision and said January 26 was a perfectly appropriate choice for an Australian citizenship ceremony.

"The government's view is that citizenship ceremonies are non-commercial, apolitical, bipartisan and secular," he said.

"They must not be used as forums for political, partisan or religious expression or for the distribution of material which could be perceived to be of a commercial, political or religious nature."

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