Perth hosts mega citizenship ceremony as rally fills Forrest Place

As Perth’s northern suburbs played host to the largest Australia Day citizenship ceremony in the nation,more than a thousand people marched through the city’s central business district in protest.

More than 300 newly sworn in citizens from around 40 countries gathered for the ceremony in the City of Joondalup on Friday morning.

More than a thousand people attended the Invasion Day rally in Perth’s CBD.

More than a thousand people attended the Invasion Day rally in Perth’s CBD.Jesinta Burton.

Premier Roger Cook said he was proud that so many had chosen to call Australia home,but declined to be drawn into the ongoing debate over the country’s national day.

“We acknowledged that we’re on the lands of the Whadjuk Noongar people today,and that’s an important acknowledgement,” he said.

“While we’re welcoming people to be new citizens of Australia,we also should take the opportunity to acknowledge that we are on ancient lands with one of the oldest continuous cultures on Earth.

Invasion Day rally.

Invasion Day rally.Jesinta Burton.

“Changing the date is obviously an issue for the federal government,and I’ll leave that to them to consider.”

Just 27 kilometres away,hundreds of protestors were beginning to flood Forrest Place in the heart of Perth ahead of the Invasion Day rally.

Traffic in the centre of the city was brought to a standstill as more than a thousand protestors marched from the city centre to the Stirling Gardens,many of them draped in Palestinian flags.

Noongar man and rally organiser Fabian Yarran called on the federal government to change Australia Day from January 26 — which marks the arrival of the first fleet more than 230 years ago —in a bid to unify the country and close the gap.

And a host of speakers took to the stage with a list of demands,including the closure of Banksia Hill Detention Centre and the notorious Unit 18 youth wing,action on deaths in custody and greater protections for sacred Aboriginal sites.

Greens senator Jordon Steele-John also spoke,imploring protestors to use their power at the ballot box to ensure that a treaty with Indigenous people became a reality and that reparations were paid.

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is a journalist with WAtoday,specialising in civil courts,business and urban development.

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