SYDNEY, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- The city of Fremantle in West Australian has decided to skip the traditional celebration on Thursday, as part of the "change the date" movement.
Australia Day celebrations on January 26 mark the arrival of the first fleet of British ships at Sydney Cove in 1788.
The national holiday is an opportunity to commemorate Australia's history, its people and its future, but for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, as well as other Australians, the day highlights the cruel history of the indigenous population and the invasion of their land.
"What we are doing is coming up with something that is actually more Australian, that actually acknowledges Australia didn't start in 1788," Freemantle Mayor Brad Pettitt told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Instead, the council will host a more "culturally inclusive" event two days later called One Day in Freo, with the aim to incorporate more indigenous cultures.
The move by local council has divided many in the town and across the rest of the nation, with local businesses concerned that one of the year's biggest trading days is being lost to political correctness.
"The Australia day fireworks in Freemantle has become an event that 30 to 40 thousand people attend. It's a wonderful day and very significant for local business, especially hospitality," Freemantle Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer Olwyn Williams told Xinhua.
"When the council decided to go down the path that they have, we took issue with it because they hadn't done any consultation with business and it was very last minute."
"There was no economic evaluation and the council did not understand the implication of what they are doing to business."
To compile the resentment by some in the community, a number of far-right groups are planning to protest the One Day in Freo event, calling it "an act of betrayal against Australia."
A Federal Member of Parliament, Ben Morton, has taken out a full page advert in the local newspaper, calling on people to ignore the council's initiative and celebrate Australia Day as usual.
But support among the indigenous community has been "overwhelming" according to Pettitt.
Aboriginal Elder and highly respected indigenous advocate, Robert Eggington, agrees with the mayor, telling local media, "Fireworks on Australia Day is a clarification of history, because celebrating the day the first gunshots ploughed our blood into the earth is horrific for Aboriginal people."
"We represent the unheard, silent voice."
"This decision is 50 years ahead of its time, other councils will follow their lead and I believe Brad Pettitt will become a historic figure because of the decision." Enditem