By Rowan Forster
A local Indigenous group has labelled Angus McMillan a “murderous stain”, demanding the federal seat encompassing Gippsland and Pakenham be renamed to Bunjileene-Purrine instead of Monash.
Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLWAC) has submitted one of 49 objections against the proposed change from McMillan to Monash.
The group’s push has garnered the support of the Australian Greens.
“The enduring trauma associated with McMillan that has been imposed on Aboriginal people deserves recognition and a just response,” CEOs Roger Fenwick and Dan Turnbull said.
“The collaborative and truly representative process undertaken by Gunnaikurnai and Bunurong People to find a name was an act of reconciliation offered to the Gippsland community, and has been declined.”
Reconciliation Victoria backed GLWAC’s call, claiming that of Victoria’s 37 electoral divisions – only nine have any connection to Indigenous people.
The Australian Electoral Commission received 100 “comments on objections” in the last month, of which 43 per cent addressed the proposed Monash title.
Commenter Darren McSweeney argued the proposed Indigenous name did not conform to guidelines for naming divisions and therefore should not be adopted.
“While the Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation, Bunurong Land Council and Bass Coast South Gippsland Reconciliation Groups may be well-meaning in their suggestions, there is no special treatment, or negotiation of division names outside the public submissions,” Mr McSweeney wrote.
“In this regard, with no viable alternative, I feel that Monash should be adopted for the division.
“I hope the committee will resist the urge to react to loud, orchestrated, but still minority, positions.”
Explorer Angus McMillan reportedly led massacres of Indigenous people across Gippsland in the mid-1800s.
The push to rename the seat was supported by Liberal MP Russell Broadbent.
Other names proposed included former businessman and Buln Buln Shire mayor John Sutcliffe, Aboriginal activist William Cooperand South Gippsland-born Olympian Drew Ginn.
The commission will meet later this month to determine electoral divisions and their names with a further objection period.