Marking Australia Day is like celebrating the Holocaust, a Melbourne politician said as her council scrapped a holiday it deemed offensive to Aboriginal people, in a move the government on Thursday labelled “extreme and divisive”.

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The annual holiday, on January 26, commemorates the arrival of the country’s first British settlers in 1788 and is a time when citizenship ceremonies are held.

But it is termed “Invasion Day” by many indigenous Australians who say it marks the beginning of the decline of Aboriginal culture.

In debating the issue Wednesday, Moreland Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton said commemorating Australia Day “would be like celebrating the Nazi Holocaust”, state broadcaster ABC reported.

Assistant Minister for Immigration Alex Hawke said in a statement the government rejected “the extreme and divisive nature of the discussion Greens and Socialist councillors are promoting”.

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