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Feds lay down law on Freo citizenship plan

AAP logoAAP 6/12/2016 Rebecca Le May

The federal government has again told a West Australian council it will not be allowed to hold citizenship ceremonies on its alternative to Australia Day after the mayor signalled the plans would go ahead.

It all started in August when the City of Fremantle voted ten-to-one in favour of cancelling the Australia Day fireworks, saying it was a day of sadness and dispossession for the indigenous community, not celebration.

They've since settled on January 28 for a family-friendly, multicultural event dubbed One Day, which will involve Aboriginal elders and feature musical acts including local hero John Butler - but there will be no tacky fireworks.

Assistant immigration minister Alex Hawke told ABC radio on Monday he was "very dark" about using citizenship ceremonies as a political football, saying the council could not hold them on that day because it would send an anti-Australia Day message.

On Tuesday, City of Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said his staff had contacted about 40 people who expected to become citizens next month and they were happy with the council's alternative plans.

"All the feedback we've received from them is that they were happy to have it on the 28th," Dr Pettitt told AAP.

"If we had requests from individuals who really want to have a ceremony on the 26th ... I would be happy to assist with a private citizenship ceremony.

"This was always about offering more choice to people, but our main position remains we still intend to have it on the 28th."

A few hours later, a spokeswoman for Mr Hawke said the pair had a conversation canvassing all of the options, but his view had not changed.

"The government position was made very clear, that no citizenship ceremony is to be held on any day marketed as an alternative to Australia Day," she said.

"This position was understood by the mayor who has committed to responding within 24 hours."

Fishing boat harbour traders are funding their own fireworks on Australia Day evening.

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