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Change anthem to save Australia Day, says outgoing citizen of the year

Outgoing Campbelltown citizen of the year Ricardo Lonza has two wishes.

One is to get the winner of the local Australia Day award more involved in key community events over the next 12 months.

And the second is to change the national anthem to overcome the criticism directed to January 26 for not being inclusive.

Lonza, the founder of Help Save the Wildlife and Bushlands in Campbelltown, says it was a huge honour being named 2019 Campbelltown’s Australia Day citizen of the year.

But once the presentation ceremony at Ingleburn was over, that was pretty much it.

The Ruse resident has been invited back to this year’s Australia Day presentations this Sunday, but that’s pretty much where his citizen of the year duties start and end.

“They need to involve the citizen of the year winner into the community for the next 12 months, kind of like an ambassador,’’ he says.

“Plus the person who wins it one year should present it to the next one and so on and so on, kind of like a hand over.

“I received a big framed certificate, and a little trophy thing, but would have loved to have done more in the past 12 months.’’

Former mayor Paul Lake agrees with Mr Lonza that the role should have more prestige over the course of the next 12 months.

“The person who wins the title should be invited to various council events, such as Fisher’s Ghost Festival parade and the gift of time and introduced and maybe say a few words,’’ Cr Lake said.

“While mayor I tried to have some changes made to this role but I got no support for them,’’ he says.

Ricardo Lonza after being named citizen of the year on January 26, 2019.

Mr Lonza says one positive from an environmentalist like himself winning the award was a bigger spotlight on native flora and fauna.

“It made a difference in more awareness of wildlife, which is what we wanted to do; people were happy that we brought light to the wildlife in the area.’’

On Sunday, Ricardo Lonza will watch as a new citizen of the year is named, so we also asked him for his thoughts on the controversy regarding the January 26 date as Australia Day.

“I wouldn’t change the date but we should include everybody on Australia Day,’’ he says.

“No matter where you come from, you’re Australian once you live in Australia, so we should think about the people who were here before us.

“I believe we should change the national anthem to the Seekers song, I Am Australian, and that may stop a lot of controversy, because that’s the main thing they’re complaining about.’’

We are one
But we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We’ll share a dream
And sing with one voice
I am, you are, we are Australian

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