The Hills Council has faced criticism over its decision not to include an acknowledgement of the traditional Darug people at council meetings.
“Very disappointing Hills Shire Council. Would love to know the reasoning behind this decision,” Juliet Ranieri wrote on Facebook.
“How could acknowledging the original owners of the land be a bad thing?”
While Tom Bath called the decision “despicable,” Kerrie-Lea Wittingham said: “Represent the people not your own agenda.”
Cathy Smith, on the other hand, agreed with the majority of councillors who voted down the motion. “There is absolutely no need for acknowledgment at every minor meeting,” she said. “Agree not necessary.’
In calling for an acknowledgement of the traditional owners to be included at meetings, councillor Ryan Tracey said it gave “Aboriginal people some standing in our society by acknowledging them as the first Australian people.”
In opposing the move, Cr Peter Gangemi said the acknowledgement “can appear to be a tokenistic gesture by non-Aboriginal people, which appears to be a way to make them feel better about Aboriginal Australians.”
But veteran Labor councillor Ray Harty spoke passionately in favour of the motion, saying, “this issue cuts across the political spectrum.”
“Our new mayor has said she wants to preside over a cohesive, connected community – I would hope that also includes the Aboriginal people of the Hills.”