23.1 C
Byron Shire
July 28, 2021

Ballina debates changing the date

Latest News

$10k fine for man who flew to Ballina while COVID infected, as govt takes Pfizer vaccine from regions

A young man who left COVID lockdown in Sydney and flew to Ballina while infected with the virus has been fined nearly $10,000 for numerous health order breaches in NSW and Queensland.

Other News

A disappointing limbo? Byron candidates on delayed council elections

Mr Dey, incumbent Mr Lyon and four other mayoral candidates were already busy campaigning for the top spot when NSW Local Government Minister Shelly Hancock delayed the election for a second time.

Old Byron Hospital DA on exhibition

Plans are finally in for the redevelopment of the old Byron Hospital that will facilitate its transformation into a much-needed community hub.

Cartoon of the week – 28 July, 2021

We love to receive letters, but not every letter will be published; the publication of letters is at the discretion of the online and print letters editors.

US promises to return Assange to Australia a ‘trick’ says father

Lawyers for the US said Judge Baraitser ought to have sought assurances for Mr Assange’s safety in the US prison system during the extradition trial. 

Artificial reefs for coastal erosion control

The building of seawalls has been the subject of a controversial court case brought against BSC in recent years. What are the other options?

Spyware unplugged – New software attacks cast a light on cybersecurity

A major investigation conducted by news organisations has found that governments around the world may have been spied on by a malicious software called Pegasus.

At its last meeting, Ballina Shire Council decided to write to Prime Minister Scott Morrison about changing the date of Australia Day, in a surprise motion which was not on the agenda.

Flags fly over Ballina Shire Council. Photo David Lowe.

Cr Phillip Meehan foreshadowed the motion early, after a separate discussion about indigenous place names across the shire.

Cr Meehan said he was ‘completely unhappy’ with the date of Australia Day, noting that his opinion had ‘morphed’ over the years.

He said it’s now clear that the time has come for our nation to ‘seriously embrace’ the change to a date that is comfortable and acceptable for the whole community.

At the end of the meeting, Cr Meehan’s motion to write to the PM and begin a national dialogue to find a new date was supported by Cr Nathan Willis.

Not a happy date

Cr Meehan said that while it was great to acknowledge community achievers, and the holiday provided an opportunity for people to get out and about celebrating their country, ‘we do know that for a very large section of our indigenous community, this is not a happy day.’

He noted that Australia Day began in 1934 but only became a holiday in all states in 1994, a ‘relatively brief history’.

With the debate intensifying year by year, Cr Meehan argued the date change was now a matter that government needed to consider seriously, with no need for a divisive and expensive referendum.

‘Government needs to take a leadership role,’ he said.

‘They need to recognise that the indigenous community are not going to be engaged or accepting of 26 January as a day to celebrate Australia. It has abhorrent connections. We need to address the situation to move towards sensitive dialogue, to create change.’

All politics is local

Cr Ben Smith. Photo supplied.

Cr Ben Smith agreed, saying it was easy for the federal government to change the date and there was ‘no reason not to do it’.

He also argued it was perfectly appropriate for Ballina Council to get involved. ‘We can start the process and push from here,’ he said.

‘Politics is local. We are free to express our opinion.’

Deputy Mayor Sharon Cadwallader said she would not be supporting the motion, as ‘residents need the opportunity to comment and think about it,’ which was impossible with so much haste.

Cr Keith Williams said there was no need for a detailed process or consultation on the matter, as the motion was just about a letter to the Prime Minister.

‘I was there on Tuesday and love Australia Day celebrations,’ he said. ‘It’s a brilliant inclusive ceremony that makes me feel good. But some people are missing out on that.’

Cr Williams described the current date as ‘painful’ and not a good thing for many people in the community.

Time has come?

Cr Nathan Willis said May 8 would be a great alternative Australia Day. (Maate)!

Ballina Shire Australia Day celebrations at Lennox Head, 2021. Photo supplied.

Mayor David Wright wrapped up the debate. ‘Until the last couple of years I would have said 26th Jan is it,’ he said.

Cr Wright said that while Australia Day was a great chance to recognise wonderful things people have done at their own expense in community, the time has come to ‘go for another date’.

The motion to write to the Prime Minister about the issue was supported by all councillors except Cr Sharon Cadwallader.

More stories about Ballina Shire Council:

New gallery and studio breathes life into old church and graveyard

Was it divine intervention or western democracy that changed the fate of a former country church on the Northern Rivers last week?


Criticism of Ballina Cr Cadwallader’s water election tactics

The Ballina Environment Society (BES) has accused Ballina Councillor Sharon Cadwallader of politicising water security by using ‘the Dunoon Dam as one of her key concerns in her bid for mayor in September’s local government elections’.


Independent councillor brings Dunoon Dam into Ballina mayoral campaign

‘I think I’ve done my apprenticeship,’ independent Ballina Shire Councillor Sharon Cadwallader says after seventeen years in the role and announcing her intention to run for mayor.


Former Greens councillor to run for Ballina Mayor

Independent Ballina Shire Councillor Jeff Johnson has confirmed he’ll be running for mayor in September’s local government elections.


Ballina Council June wrap-up

June's meeting covered a lot of ground as Ballina's councillors positioned themselves for local elections coming in September.


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. There is no alternative date that will satisfy everyone. The current date was debated and selected initially and should not be changed because of the opinions of a minority.

  2. I agree a change is necessary and suggest the first Saturday in March – this would allow for a long weekend. 26 January could be renamed as “Commencement Day”. I am sure much debate will take place and suitable names and date decided upon.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Saddle Road land snapped up for $10m

A picturesque property in Brunswick Heads that was once slated to become an eco-village may become a light industrial precinct after the owners sold it to a developer for $10 million. 

New gallery and studio breathes life into old church and graveyard

Was it divine intervention or western democracy that changed the fate of a former country church on the Northern Rivers last week?

Byron’s bioenergy facility DA

David Dixon, Byron Bay I am concerned Council’s bioenergy project has received no external financial scrutiny and that my requests for a full cost/benefit analysis have...

Why the rush?

Jason Beaumont, Suffolk Park I wanted to respond the brain aneurysm-causing letter by one Sara Rath (21 July). The letter writer was either a troll or,...