Sydney Cumberland mayor Steve Christou refuses to cancel Australia Day events despite COVID-19 concerns


Councils are using the coronavirus pandemic as a “cheap” excuse to cancel Australia Day celebrations this year, one Sydney mayor claims, blaming ‘cancel culture’ instead.

A string of festivities have been canned, including the Ferrython, Harbour Parade, Tug and Yacht Ballet and Tall Ships Race.

Local councils say COVID-19 is behind the decision, but Cumberland City mayor Steve Christou has labelled that a “lazy” and “unAustralian” excuse.

Mr Christou has vowed to push ahead with celebrations in his area, including a citizenship ceremony in Granville followed by an Australia Day party at Holroyd Gardens.

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Mr Christou said that cancelling Australia Day events was “completely unacceptable and quite frankly unAustralian”.

“Any cancellation of an Australia Day event is unAustralian and a cheap and lazy excuse to not conduct a COVID-safe event,” Mr Christou told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“It‘s very sad that the bed-wetters and cancel-culture philosophers are dictating our agendas before a health directive has been issued,” he added. “I feel this is taking the easy way out.”

He said events could easily go ahead with basic safety procedures like QR codes, masks, social distancing, and sanitisation stations.

This is despite Mr Christou’s council including the suburb of Berala, which is at the centre of the western Sydney COVID-19 outbreak.

A BWS staff member worked for days while unknowingly infected with coronavirus.

Other councillors aren’t impressed and said said the mayor had “gone off on his own tangent”.

Cumberland City Labor councillor George Campbell told The Sydney Morning Herald: “The mayor has typically gone off on his own tangent and his intemperate views have not been endorsed by council.”

The Northern Beaches Council also has no plans to let COVID-19 get in the way of Australia Day celebrations — despite the recent outbreak and subsequent lockdown.

It will hold a food truck party at Forestville on January 23, a market at Dee Why on January 24, an open-air cinema at Brookvale Oval on January 25, and pool parties at Warringah and Manly on January 26.

But most Sydney councils are cancelling events to keep communities safe.

Cumberland’s neighbouring local council area, Canterbury-Bankstown, have canned pool parties and concerts on Australia Day, deeming them “non-essential”.

Another neighbour, Parramatta Council, has postponed its Summer Nights Live concerts on January 25 and 26 indefinitely, and has moved it citizenship ceremonies online.

Liverpool, North Sydney, Inner West, and the Hills Councils in NSW have all cancelled events.

The Inner West Council decided not to go ahead with Australia Day Celebrations in November, before the latest spat of COVID-19 outbreaks. Its mayor Darcy Byrne said Australia Day was to be commemorated not celebrated.

January 26 is considered as “Invasion Day” by some and believe celebrations should not be held in respect of Indigenous people.

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