I am a little confused about the issue of the renaming of the electorate of McMillan. I am not confused about the ideals behind the decision.
I feel that the original decision to choose the name of a mass murderer of our early indigenous peoples for this electorate was an insult to these people and the name change will go a long way towards rectifying this situation. A step towards reconciliation.
Part of AEC’s (Australian Electoral Commission) criteria for the new name was a desire to consider an aboriginal name. Representatives of the Gunnaikurnai and the Bunurong peoples, whose traditional areas are covered by this electorate, in a spirit of reconciliation formed a special naming committee.
After extensive research they came up with the hyphenated name ‘Bunjileene-Purrine’ after two of the region’s significant ancestors.
This is where my confusion comes in. The AEC has chosen the name of Monash, without any consultation with special indigenous naming committee and without any reasons for their decision.
Monash is clearly not an aboriginal name, nor is Russell Broadbent (Federal member for this electorate) who wrote to the commission recommending the name of Monash.
Mr Broadbent stated regarding the name of Monash that “It would send a message of practical reconciliation, it would send a message that we actually care about these issues…”
I disagree as this situation is clearly insulting and non-reconciliatory to our local aboriginal people.
Also, the chief executive of the Gunnaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation, Roger Fenwick, said it should not be named after another European.
“I think there’s a strong feeling that it is time, and if it is going to be changed then it should be changed to reflect significant ancestors of the Aboriginal people in Gippsland and not a European name,” Mr Fenwick said.
Now what would be a genuine gesture of reconciliation is for the AEC to ask that the Gunaikurnai-Bunurong Naming Committee be reconvened and negotiate an Aboriginal name that will meet their criteria, and select that name for the electorate.
Phil Piper, Mirboo North.