Aussie council's $500,000 bill to change 'racist' name

·2-min read

Ratepayers in inner-northern Melbourne may be forced to foot a hefty $500,000 bill after their Council voted to change its name due to racist connotations.

Moreland City Council began making moves to shed its title last month after discovering its namesake was a Jamaican slave estate.

Residents sit outside a cafe in Moreland City Council, Victoria. Source: Moreland City Council
The City of Moreland will change its name after learning of the racist history behind it. Source: Moreland City Council

Traditional owners and residents came forward with information showing the name came from land between Moonee Ponds Creek to Sydney Road, that Farquhar McCrae acquired in 1839.

He named the land 'Moreland' after a Jamaican slave plantation his father and grandfather had operated from 1770 to 1796.

There were up to 500 to 700 enslaved people working at the plantation in any one year, producing sugar and rum.

"We have two examples of racism on display here: global slavery and local dispossession. They come together in one word and that is 'Moreland'," Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung elder Uncle Andrew Gardiner said.

Council begins name change process

Councillors supported the name change and agreed to begin rebranding consultations in a special meeting on Monday night, where it was revealed the move could cost at least $500,000 over the next two years.

The huge bill will allow the council to update digital platforms along with significant building and entry signs.

Pedestrians cross Sydney Road in Coburg, Melbourne, Friday, May 28, 2021. Victoria has reported four new locally acquired coronavirus cases on the first day of a seven-day lockdown, taking the total number of infections to 30. Source: AAP
The Moreland renaming process could cost as much as $500,000 to replace signs and rebrand digital platforms. Source: AAP

However the controversial proposal wouldn’t allow Council to rename Moreland train station and Moreland Road.

“We believe this is an important local issue and we are focused on working through this process in a thorough, fair and equitable way,” Greens Mayor Mark Riley said.

Mayor Riley, who was among six councillors who voted for the change, said a further 1011 people had signed a letter in support.

"This motion tonight is but one small step in the healing process, and goes some small way to restoring the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung and giving them the respect and the rightful link to their land," he said.

Debate rages over costly rename

There were three council members who opposed the motion, including Independent Oscar Yildiz who slammed the huge cost to ratepayers.

"We live in challenging times and while some of us are in comfortable taxpayer jobs, there are many Moreland families doing it tough," he said.

The preferred name will be presented to Victoria's local government minister Shaun Leane, who must make a recommendation to the Victorian governor.

Mr Leane has declared the government's in-principal support for the change.

With AAP

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