City of Busselton councillors said no to acknowledging country

Smoking ceremony and sweeping dance performed by Busselton elders and school students.
Smoking ceremony and sweeping dance performed by Busselton elders and school students.

“THIS motion is about giving the council the opportunity to stand up and say ‘we choose respect,’” said Councillor Ross Paine in Wednesday’s meeting.

He put forward the motion to acknowledge country at the start of council meetings each week.

Councillor Paine began by saying, “I would like to acknowledge that this meeting is being held on the traditional lands of the Wadandi people and pay my respect to elders both past and present.

“That was an acknowledgement of country.”

In the meeting, City of Busselton councillors voted 3-6 against the motion.

Mayor Grant Henley said he gave the motion a lot of thought but decided to vote against it.

Mayor Henley said he would rather the council look at implementing a reconciliation process in the wider community.

Councillors Paul Carter and Robert Reekie both supported the motion with Councillor Carter saying he was approached about the issue in the lead up to the election.

Councillor Reekie said acknowledging country was one way to achieve respect in the community and was especially important in a society which is ruled by so much violence and drugs.

Councillor Rob Bennett spoke against the motion and said he wanted to dispel claims that it was a racial decision.

Councillor Bennett said it was the third time the issue had come to council and in essence they were being asked to change council procedures.

Councillors Terry Best and Gordon Bleachmore also spoke against the motion and both agreed it was a divisive act in the community that didn’t work to achieve equality.

Councillor Coralie Tarbotton was also against the motion saying she believed all people were included in meetings and were always shown respect at council.