Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's top indigenous adviser has slammed as 'a silly mistake' a local council's decision to cancel Australia Day fireworks display because it could offend Aboriginal people.
Warren Mundine, the chair of the Prime Minister's Indigenous Advisory Council, was responding to the local council in Fremantle, Western Australia, to cancel the annual fireworks display on Australia Day, deemed 'Invasion Day' by some Aboriginal people and activists.
'I think this was a silly mistake, let's have a sensible conversation about shifting the date so we can all come together, but banning fireworks doesn't help – it just spoils the day for people,' Mr Mundine told Macquarie Radio on Friday.
Warren Mundine has slammed a local council's decision to cancel Australia Day fireworks display because it could offend Aboriginal people
Indigenous Labor MP Ben Wyatt (pictured) said the cancellation of Australia Day fireworks is likely to cause more division
Australia Day fireworks in Western Australia's Fremantle have been cancelled after councillors voted against the event over Indigenous cultural sensitivities
Indigenous Labor MP Ben Wyatt echoed Mr Mundine's sentiments and says the cancellation of Australia Day fireworks is likely to cause more division.
'The relationship between Aboriginal people and Australia Day is profound. Cancelling fireworks is a facile response and likely to cause more division,' the MP posted on Twitter.
Councillor Doug Thompson said he voted for the cancellation because of the $145,000 price tag.
'I think it's a waste of money to spend that amount of money for such a short event,' he said.
'$145,000 for an event which takes essentially 30 to 40 minutes is not a good return.'
The controversial decision was made by councillors over Indigenous cultural sensitivities, but Mr Wyatt says the choice will 'not advance the cause of reconciliation'
The Indigenous MP tweeted further: 'Cancelling popular events in the name of reconciliation does not advance the cause. If its because of cost, then call it cost'
However, Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt did not attribute cost to the decision, but said: 'there has been a growing movement that January 26 is increasingly becoming a day that is 'not for all Australians'.'
'For many Aboriginal Australians it is indeed a day of sadness and dispossession,' Mr Pettitt said.
'This does not just refer to Indigenous involvement but the involvement of many other Australians who feel increasingly uncomfortable with the date and what it represents.'
Protesters called for the council to move the fireworks to a more 'sensitive' date with the hashtag #FireWorksFreeFreo.
Protesters called for the council to be sensitive to the concerns of the Indigenous community
The protest was coordinated through the Australians of British Heritage for Indigenous Justice and Reconciliation group
Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt (pictured) said 'there has been a growing movement that January 26 is increasingly becoming a day that is 'not for all Australians''
The council met with the Indigenous community to discuss the event on Wednesday night.
According to reports, local far right groups had been threatening to demonstrate out the front of the council chamber.
But only a group of anti-Australia Day fireworks protesters affiliated with the group Australians of British Heritage for Indigenous Justice and Reconcilliation showed.
The decision - which garnered the support of every councillor bar one - has sparked outrage on social media with some people saying they were 'offended'.
'There's no reason to go to @CityofFremantle now @bradpettitt takes away one thing that has brought thousands of people (to) it', wrote Chris Williams.
'As a 7th generation Aussie I am offended,' said Rob Smith.
Local councillors said they were flooded with emails from constituents arguing for and against.
The event attracts crowds of up to 50,000 each year, injecting more than $2.5 million into the local community, Fremantle Chamber of Commerce claimed
One supporter, Clr Jon Strachan, said the Invasion Day debate was 'quite strong'.
He said there was an argument it is 'less and less relevant to celebrate Australia Day in that way.
'There's also is a side in Western Australia that it means nothing to us,' he said, arguing Federation Day (January 1) could be more appropriate.
Another supporter, Clr Jeff McDonald, supported the decision on principle. But he said it was rushed through without enough community consultation.
He said there was a suggestion the fireworks could be replaced with a light show.
'Don't replace fireworks with a light show if it's still insensitive, on Australia Day,' he said.
The mayor, Mr Pettitt, said the city will instead be presenting a family-friendly event to celebrate being Australian on an alternative date.
'We've talked about a range of things which may include everything from light shows and projections, to concerts, to even having a giant family picnic,' he told Nine News.
The event attracts crowds of up to 50,000 each year, injecting more than $2.5 million into the local community, Fremantle Chamber of Commerce claimed.
The annual event has long been deemed 'invasion day' for Aboriginal people (pictured: scenes from Invasion Day protest in Melbourne after 200 people gathered in January this year)