Traditional owners plebiscite too late

A PLEBISCITE on council election day to get the community’s view on acknowledging the traditional owners before council meetings and functions was knocked back for being too late.

The item was brought back to The Hills Council at the August 8 meeting, but it was not supported after councillors learned that it could not go ahead if they wanted it to happen.

A motion passed by council does not become official until 5pm the following day (Wednesday).

Due to the electoral commission’s Wednesday noon deadline for all nominations and election details, the council would not have been able to submit a request to hold the plebiscite.

Labor councillor Tony Hay referenced the NSW Constitution and mentioned Baulkham Hills MP David Elliott supported his views on acknowledging the traditional owners before council meetings.

Cr Hay said in section two of the state’s constitution, “Parliament, on behalf of the people of New South Wales, recognises that Aboriginal people, as the traditional custodians and occupants of the land in New South Wales”.

Councillors Mike Thomas, who was not at the July 25 meeting when this motion was first brought to council, and Michelle Byrne indicated their support for a poll but did not vote in favour as the council had run out of time to request to hold the plebiscite.

Cr Byrne said it was important to address the matter and “get it right” so that council go back to “managing growth and developing infrastructure”.

Cr Hay was pleased to see more councillors were open to discussions but was disappointed the plebiscite was knocked back at the previous meeting.

“Cr Byrne said we should work on this to get it right, but we didn’t get it right on July 25,” Cr Hay said.

“This matter has brought up in the past few terms on at least one occasion. This is an issue that won’t go way.”