‘Horrible abuse’ follows misleading Aust Day report

VINCENT mayor Emma Cole says she copped “horrible abuse” this week following a media report that misled people into thinking her council wanted to ditch its Australia Day citizenship ceremonies.

Last Friday, The West Australian ran a story under the headline “Council’s Jan 26 fury” based on a letter Ms Cole wrote to citizenship minister David Coleman arguing against new rules forcing councils to hold the ceremonies on Australia Day and Australian Citizenship Day.

Ms Cole said her letter simply tried to point out that the existing arrangements were working well and there was no need to change anything.

But the West’s story gave the distinct impression Vincent was unhappy with Australia Day ceremonies, sparking a torrent of abuse on social media.

“I stopped looking because it was so horrible,” Ms Cole said.

“It was my first genuine experience of horrible trolling, which flowed over to people private messaging me horrible abuse.”

Ms Cole said Vincent had no plans to move its Australia Day ceremony, and wouldn’t without a thorough consultation process.

“I didn’t want the Vincent community to think I was somehow championing a cause without going to the community, and asking ‘what are your thoughts, what are your sentiments, because I honestly don’t know what the community sentiment is’,” she said.

Mr Coleman said councils that ditch their Australia Day ceremonies would be stripped of the right to hold them.

“While most councils already hold citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day, becoming an Australian on our national day is a great privilege and I want more people to have that opportunity.”

The rules are set to come into effect in the second half of this year.

In her letter, Ms Cole had pointed out how few people had even heard of Australian Citizenship Day, which is on September 17.

She also noted that this year, ACD fell on a council meeting date, and not being a public holiday having to hold ceremonies could be a “significant disruption to council business”.

by DAVID BELL

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