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Merri-bek City Council in Melbourne, Moreland, is taking the day off for Australia Day

City council refusing to celebrate Australia Day is criticized for taking the DAY off anyway: ‘They should be working’

  • Merri-bek City Council took Thursday off
  • It has called for Australia Day to be changed
  • Alderman Oscar Yildiz called it hypocritical

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A Melbourne council that refuses to celebrate Australia Day and changed its former ‘racist’ name to an Indigenous name has been labeled a hypocrite for taking a day off for Thursday’s holiday.

The city council of Merri-bek, formerly Moreland, will not answer phones for its residents on Thursday, a move independent councilor Oscar Yildiz has labeled inconsistent.

“Staff should be working today,” Mr Yildiz, who is half Turkish, said Thursday morning.

“The council has voted not to celebrate today. I will work today – respond to taxpayers and do my job,” he said.

“We’re not supposed to celebrate, so don’t celebrate.”

Merri-bek City Council has taken a day off for Australia Day despite calls to change the date of the holiday (pictured, Merri-bek)

Independent councilor Oscar Yildiz said 'staff should work' on the council as it decided not to celebrate the holiday

Independent councilor Oscar Yildiz said 'staff should work' on the council as it decided not to celebrate the holiday

Independent councilor Oscar Yildiz said ‘staff should work’ on the council as it decided not to celebrate the holiday

Merri-Bek covers Melbourne’s inner-northern and northern suburbs, including the formerly working-class but now ultra-progressive suburbs of Brunswick and Brunswick East.

Last year, the council voted to change the name to Moreland over concerns that the name had racist connotations and was offensive to Indigenous Australians.

The name change, which took effect in September, has been highly controversial among residents and is expected to cost a minimum of $500,000, though several council members expect the actual figure to be double that.

In 2017, Merri-bek, then Moreland, voted against observing Australia Day, claiming at the time that ‘January 26 marks the beginning of the British invasion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lands and oppression of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People’.

At the same time, the municipality supported the #changethedate campaign.

Merri-Bek, formerly Moreland, voted against celebrating Australia Day in 2017 (pictured, Australia Day revelers)

Merri-Bek, formerly Moreland, voted against celebrating Australia Day in 2017 (pictured, Australia Day revelers)

Merri-Bek, formerly Moreland, voted against celebrating Australia Day in 2017 (pictured, Australia Day revelers)

Merri-Bek did not hold his citizenship ceremony on Australia Day this year, but on January 24.

The city’s mayor, Victorian Greens member Angelica Panopoulos, said in December that January 26 was a “painful day” for many.

“We will always listen to traditional owners and our First Nations community on issues that are important to them,” said Ms. Panopoulos.

“January 26 is a painful day for many in our community and not the right date to celebrate.”

Ms. Panopoulos and the Merr-bek community have been contacted by News Corp. for comment.

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