ICONIC Mount Panorama will become officially known by its Aboriginal name Wahluu under a new policy to be adopted by Bathurst Regional Council.
Mayor Gary Rush revealed on Wednesday night that negotiations were well advanced to have the co-naming of Mount Panorama formally gazetted.
He cited the plan as further evidence of council’s commitment to reconciliation with the region’s indigenous community as councillor debated a rare notice of motion tabled by Councillor Jess Jennings.
Cr Jennings had called on council to reject proposed changes to Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act that he said would “risk legitimising bigotry”, but his colleagues resisted, reluctant to bring federal politics into local council.
Instead, a majority of councillors – Monica Morse, Ian North, Bobby Bourke, Warren Aubin and Michael Coote – supported an amended motion tabled by Cr Morse that “council reaffirm its existing policies opposing racial discrimination”.
Earlier, Cr Rush had praised council’s record of inclusiveness and its work with local indigenous communities.
He said council had been approached to host a function in honour of Australian Human Rights Commission president Professor Gillian Triggs and was in the early stages of instituting a formal reconciliation plan.
“[But] the other very, very significant thing we are doing as a council is moving ahead with the co-naming of Mount Panorama with its indigenous name Wahluu,” Cr Rush said.
“There’s no more iconic way for this council to lend its support to this inclusive community we all seek. We have a policy to adopt the co-naming of Mount Panorama and I am certain that this council’s position is we do not tolerate racism in any way, shape or form.”
While Cr Jennings struggled to find support for his notice of motion, Cr Bourke was the most critical of the matter coming before council.
He accused Cr Jennings of using the chamber as his soapbox to push a political agenda.
Cr North, who seconded the notice of motion to allow the debate, said it was the actions of people – not a piece of legislation – that was the key to ending discrimination.
“It comes down to people, down to their own actions and their own respect - that’s what it’s all about,” he said.
Cr Morse admitted she was torn over which way to vote.
“I don’t want to see us vote against [Cr Jennings’ motion] because it would be an awful shame for it to look as though we don’t support the Anti-Discrimination Act,” she said.
“I don’t want to vote against it but at the same time I don’t think we should be voting on federal issues at all.”