A Labor councillor has thrown his support behind a push from his Liberal counterparts for an Australia Day shakeup, but believes celebrations must stay at Maitland Park.
I’m in favor of reviewing events regularly but believe Maitland Park is the right place for Australia Day celebrations to occur.Ben Whiting
Cr Ben Whiting is the chairperson for the Maitland Park Recreation Advisory Board, and said the park was very ‘close to his heart’.
“I’m in favor of reviewing events regularly but believe Maitland Park is the right place for Australia Day celebrations to occur,” he said.
“It allows a flow between official events, organised activities, food, and free entry to Maitland pool.”
His comments come after Maitland Liberal councillors called for a shakeup of the city’s Australia Day celebrations in 2020. Crs Sally Halliday and Mitchell Griffin said high temperatures and a drop in crowd numbers in previous Australia Day celebrations sparked their push.
The pair are proposing official proceedings like awards and citizenship ceremonies should be held in the morning at the Town Hall, followed by a sunset community event including markets, live entertainment, activities for children and concluding with fireworks.
But Cr Whiting said the weather was part of the Australia climate, and changes needed “to be made on evidence, not thought bubbles”.
“Numbers may fluctuate with weather but this is Australia and that is to be expected,” he said.
“Maitland Park is a beautiful showpiece for our city, has a rich heritage honoring our fallen service people and is well used for both Anzac Day and Australia Day in particular.
“I’d like to see Maitland Park remain the hub of community activities for Australia Day given its historical significance and versatility as a venue.” The Liberal councillors’ push comes in the wake of council being forced to cancel the New Year’s Eve celebrations after a thunderstorm caused havoc across the region – including the 9pm fireworks.