'Culturally insensitive': Australia Day celebrations make way for 'One Day in Freo'

The City of Fremantle has stuck to its guns and snubbed any Australia Day celebrations, instead opting to hold a shindig two days later.

In August, the council voted to can its traditional day fireworks on January 26 as it deemed them "culturally insensitive".

The city came under fire for its controversial move with influential Aboriginal leader Warren Mundine labelling the council's decision as a "silly mistake".

Fremantle Mayor Dr. Brad Pettitt, Dr. Richard Walley OAM, Gina Williams and John Butler have backed the move.

Fremantle Mayor Dr. Brad Pettitt, Dr. Richard Walley OAM, Gina Williams and John Butler have backed the move.

The Fremantle Chamber of Commerce also slammed the council for ditching the fireworks, claiming it injected $2.5 million into the local economy each year.

It has also stirred anger from far-right groups who have continued to threaten protests over the decision and has in the past led to the council ramping up security.

Unperturbed by the proposition of this Fremantle council put out a release on Friday morning saying it would be holding a "culturally-inclusive alternative event" to the traditional Australia Day celebrations on January 28.

Warren Mundine has labelled Fremantle's decision to scrap its fireworks a "silly mistake".

Warren Mundine has labelled Fremantle's decision to scrap its fireworks a "silly mistake".

The 'One Day in Fremantle' event will be held at Esplanade Reserve and will feature a number of "world-class" performers including former portsiders John Butler, Mama Kin and Dan Sultan. "I feel very honoured and privileged to be part of One Day in Fremantle," Butler said in a statement. 

Fremantle Mayor Dr. Brad Pettitt, Dr. Richard Walley OAM, Gina Williams and John Butler have backed the move.

"It takes bold steps to move forward as a community and I really commend the City of Fremantle for their vision to create a space and a moment that is culturally sensitive and inclusive. A day in which all Australians can happily celebrate and invest in."

Advocates for the cancellation of the Australia Day fireworks gather at the City of Fremantle meeting earlier this year. Photo: Brendan Foster

Advocates for the cancellation of the Australia Day fireworks gather at the City of Fremantle meeting earlier this year. Photo: Brendan Foster

Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt said the event would be a day for all Australians to celebrate.

Warren Mundine has labelled Fremantle's decision to scrap its fireworks a "silly mistake".

"We are immensely proud to have artists of this calibre join Fremantle to celebrate diversity, inclusion and acceptance for all Australians," he said.

"Whether it's enjoying live music or participating in engaging art and cultural activities, this event is for all Australians to unite and celebrate on one day.

"This family-friendly event will contribute to the nationwide conversation on celebrating our country and its people. Fremantle is offering Australians another day to celebrate – together."

A number of Fremantle businesses including Henry Liascos from iconic fish and chip restaurant Cicerellos wanted to see the Australia Day fireworks restored to Fremantle - so traders have whipped up the cash to put it on themselves.

'Get the f--k out of this country': Perth estate agent quits over fireworks rant

A Perth real estate agent has quit his company after telling a woman to "get the f--k out of this country" when she questioned his involvement in bringing the canned Fremantle Australia Day fireworks back to the port city.

The popular event was scrapped by Fremantle council from 2017 after councillors deemed the annual celebration "culturally insensitive."

But businesses around Fremantle's fishing boat harbour pooled their resources to bring back the city's Australia Day fireworks.

A flyer from Harcourts Realty Plus estate agent Stuart Endersby, boasting of his role in the return of the fireworks, ended up on the popular Facebook page Freo Massive.

Mr Endersby, who has nicknamed himself The Freo Guy, couldn't resist offering to sell people's homes at the bottom of the flyer.

When a number of Facebook-users flagged opposition to the fireworks being held on Australia Day, Mr Endersby posted his mobile number on Freo Massive for people to contact him.

"I have offered my phone number twice," he wrote. "Still no call??? Easy behind a keyboard. Let's move on. Fireworks are back. Debate Australia Day date all you like. It's about families and kids -50,000 and Fremantle traders. Not race."

But when one woman did take up his offer and texted Mr Endersby about why he was "supporting" the fireworks on Australia Day, Mr Endersby didn't hold back.

 "I do choose to support it 100%," he wrote. "I'm an Australian."

"If you don't, get the f--k out of this country."

People on Freo Massive were swift to react to his comments.

"He's just a racist bogan in a cheap suit," one person wrote.

 "He's lost any business I would've thrown his way," another wrote.

One Facebook-user even complained to the Harcourts WA Facebook page - but their post has since been deleted.

"I find it absolutely disgraceful that one of your employees is rejoicing in bringing back the Australia Day fireworks in Fremantle," it read.

"The 26th marks a massive and ongoing genocide of our indigenous people and by Harcourts promoting this you are doing much damage to your reputation and and the lives of our fellow indigenous Australians. Many Perth residents have seen this and your employee's distasteful display of language in response. You need to act on this."

At the time of the scrapping of the popular fireworks display, Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettit explained that the cultural insensitivity of the Australia Day date for indigenous Australians had led to the decision.

"There has been a growing movement that January 26 is increasingly becoming a day that is 'not for all Australians'," he said. 

Mr Endersby, a long-time radio industry executive and former content director at 6IX, said he regretted the text.

"I deeply, deeply regret it," he said.

He denied there was any racial intent behind the text.

"Absolutely not," he said.

Harcourts Realty One posted an apology late on Thursday on Freo Massive, from which the the original post has since been deleted.

The real estate company said Mr Endersby had resigned over the issue.

"On behalf of Management at Harcourts Realty Plus, we would like to apologise to the public for any confusion regarding our involvement with the Fremantle Bid reinstatement of the Fremantle Fireworks night," it said.

"We would also like to advise that Stuart Endersby has officially resigned from his position in our company and we have accepted it. We would like the public to know that we were never involved in the Fremantle [fireworks] decision and that it was purely and simply the use of combined advertising created by Stuart that has led the public to believe that we were somehow actively involved. We were not and will not be involved in this event in any commercial way. Please accept this statement as our heartfelt way of moving forward."

 - Brendan Foster, Marisa Wikramanayake

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