Cumberland Councillor Steve Christou says he will dump Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremonies

A western Sydney councillor has said he would “dump” the use of Welcome to Country ceremonies if re-elected in the majority when residents head to the polls this year.

Cumberland City Councillor Steve Christou announced on Monday the Indigenous ceremonies would be axed if his newly launched party Our Local Community (OLC) won majority over the current Labor government.

Previously a part of the Labor Party before defecting in 2019, Mr Christou served as mayor from 2017 to 2022.

Mr Christou claimed that the ceremonies did not represent the people of his electorate, with Indigenous Australians making up a small percentage of those living in Cumberland in Sydney’s west.

“It makes no sense to continue with an Indigenous policy that only represents roughly 0.63 per cent of the 240,000 residents that reside in the Cumberland City Council Local Government area,” he said.

“Our focus will be on more accurately representing our diverse community in the issues that are affecting them, primarily cost of living and housing affordability.”

The councillor argued Cumberland resident’s “overwhelming” choice to reject the Voice to Parliament indicated that they would support the proposal.

“The message has been delivered loud and clear by our residents,” he said.

“…its (sic) time this obsession of dividing the country stopped and I urge more elected representatives in local councils to stand up and pull the plug on this expensive and over used exercise and ideas of changing Australia day (sic) celebrations away from the 26th of January.

“Its (sic) time to stop dividing the community in order to represent a minority of 3 per cent.”

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