MANDURAH’S new mayor will not be weighing in on a campaign to change the name of the Peel region.
Mayor Rhys Williams said it should not be a political discussion.
“The discussion of renaming the Peel Region needs to start organically, out in the community, and not at the decision-maker level,” he said.
“It is important that the community has these type of conversations and that we take the politics out of the discussion.”
Yesterday, Dawesville and Mandurah’s MLAs shot down calls to rename the Peel region.
The Bindjareb Noongar traditional owners started a campaign to rename the Peel region, due to the association the name Thomas Peel has with the massacre of Aboriginal people in Pinjarra 183 years ago.
Dawesville MLA Zak Kirkup, who is of Aboriginal descent, said he does not support changing the name of the Peel Region.
“When I think of Peel as a region, I don’t think of its namesake; I think of the amazing people in our community who have taken that term and made it their own,” he said.
“These days I think ‘Peel’ is more of a reflection of the inclusive, warm community that I am proud to represent rather than any colonial history.
“I welcome the conversation and while I have my own personal opinion, I will always listen to my community and work hard to represent their views.
“I have to say there are far more significant issues facing the West Australian people which I think we should focus our attention on before we start changing names.
“Let’s focus our collective energy on trying to fix those issues first.”
Local Government Minister and Mandurah MLA David Templeman echoed Mr Kirkup’s views.
“It is not practical or feasible to rename the region; however that does not mean that we do not need to acknowledge our rich and diverse Aboriginal and cultural history, which is integral to the story of WA,” he said.
“My priority remains the creation of jobs and opportunities for the people in the region.”
Murray-Wellington MLA Robyn Clarke said she supported the change.
In Mr Kirkup’s maiden speech to State Parliament he addressed the oppression of the rights of Aboriginal people, which included his own family.
He spoke of the difficulty his family had getting married, moving freely and owning property.
“We should never forget the past, however, I believe we are all far better served, in the spirit of meaningful reconciliation, to come together as Western Australians,” he said.
Bindjareb traditional owner Karrie-Anne Kearing responded to the assertion that there are more significant issues in the community.
“We can address more than one issue or the ones you find most important at one time,” she wrote.
“Every government department changed their names a couple of months ago.
“This would be no different.”
Thomas Peel was one of the earliest settlers in WA and helped settle the Swan River colony.
After the theft of a horse and the death of a white servant in 1834, Peel requested a strengthened military presence in Pinjarra.
As many as 30 Noongar people were killed by the military in the 1834 Pinjarra Massacre.