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Stirling showdown: Why a WA council could cancel its own name

Liam Bartlett
Article image for Stirling showdown: Why a WA council could cancel its own name

FIRST ON 6PR 

The City of Stirling will debate whether or not to remove Stirling from the council’s name over the mistreatment of First Australians.

Ratepayer Jeff Bulleen proposed the motion at a council meeting to have all references of WA’s first Governor, James Stirling, removed.

Speaking with 6PR’s Liam Bartlett he said ditching the name is “long overdue”.

“It really all starts with the simple fact that James Stirling was a mass murderer,” he said.

“He organised and led the Pinjarra massacre in October 1834 and that is now an undisputed historical fact.

“Having this area named after a genocidal mass murderer is not really a very good look.

“The renaming should be done in such a way that is inclusive and in recognition of the Noongar community.”

City of Stirling mayor Mark Irwin said it’s too early to say whether the motion will be supported by councillors.

“It’s a conversation that is probably a lot bigger than the Stirling council and needs to be taken by the whole community.”

While he acknowledged the Pinjarra massacre was a dark part of WA’s history he said we can’t erase the past.

“You can’t just wipe out history,” he said.

“Reconciliation is more than just the action, it is the learnings that go along with it and the knowledge.

“For us going ahead and putting a council of motion to wipe out the name of Stirling isn’t doing anyone any good.”

Historian Richard Offen echoed the Mayor’s comments.

“Those things are there to teach us what we mustn’t do in the future,” he told Liam Bartlett.

“Obliterating his name from history doesn’t do much to help reconciliation, what we must do is learn.”

The motion will be discussed at the next council meeting on June 8.

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Liam Bartlett
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