Letter to the Editor, Shameful day for Eurobodalla Council
The Beagle Editor
For over two hundred years our First Nations people have been ignored by various governments with paternalistic, colonial attitudes. Governments have failed to listen. They thought they knew better. History has shown that they were wrong. The result is the current situation of inequality and lack of support where our First Nations are the most incarcerated people on the planet.
In 2017 our First Nations people got together and produced the Uluru Statement From The Heart, requesting the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.
The Federal Government listened, for once, and has agreed to hold a referendum;
“A Proposed Law: to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Do you approve this proposed alteration?”
It’s politics. You either vote Yes or No. Hopefully after learning and understanding the options. There is no third alternative. Yes or No.
Eurobodalla Shire Council has in the past seen the failure-to-listen problem and set up a Eurobodalla Aboriginal Advisory Committee to make recommendations to Council. Today’s Council meeting addressed one of those recommendations;
“We the members of the Aboriginal Advisory Committee recommend that the Eurobodalla Shire Council supports a ‘yes’ vote in the referendum for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament. Also, that the Council advises all residents of Eurobodalla Shire about this decision and advertises this decision in signs on the council’s properties.”
Following two hundred years of paternalistic colonial practice, Councillors refused to listen. Many Councillors claimed to support the Yes case, but also claimed that they could have a third option and not act as Yes or No supporters. They are clearly not well educated about politics and binary referenda questions.
An amendment was proposed; to receive the recommendation but to take no action.
Only Councillors Alison Worthington and Anthony Mayne voted against the amendment, and thus return to the original recommendation. The other seven, including the Mayor voted for the amendment, or in effect to refuse to act on the recommendation of the Aboriginal Advisory Committee.
At that point, about twenty members of the public gallery left the meeting with calls of Shame, Shame, Shame. Eurobodalla deserves better from our Councillors.