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Threat over Freo's Australia Day change

AAP logoAAP 2/12/2016

The federal government is threatening to revoke a West Australian council's power to hold citizenship ceremonies if it holds them on its alternative Australia Day.

The City of Fremantle has decided to move its traditional January 26 events to January 28 because of Aboriginal cultural sensitivities.

Assistant Minister for Immigration Alex Hawke told the Freemantle council in a letter that the federal government will revoke its citizenship ceremony powers if it presides over one on its "anti-national day event".

"The government takes a very dim view of Fremantle City Council's decision to cancel their Australia Day events on political grounds," he said in the letter, sent on Friday.

Mr Hawke says the council is attempting to politicise Australian citizenship, which he believes is "unacceptable" and a possible breach of the rules on citizenship ceremonies.

The ceremonies cannot be used for political, partisan or religious expression and should be apolitical and bipartisan, the assistant minister said.

Mr Hawke said the government is monitoring the situation and awaiting a response from the council.

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