Governor Stirling memorial proposal at Frank Buswell foreshore land splits Bunbury council

Oliver LaneSouth Western Times
Capt. James Stirling.
Camera IconCapt. James Stirling. Credit: Unknown/Supplied

A decision on whether to allocate space for a memorial of Capt. James Stirling has split the Bunbury City Council, with the motion ultimately deferred to the heritage advisory committee.

In January, an elector’s motion asked the council to consider setting aside an area at the western end of the Frank Buswell Foreshore for a memorial to explain Governor Stirling’s contribution to the region.

The executive recommendation before the council this week originally suggested the council note the motion, but not endorse the setting aside of land.

An alternative motion was presented to the council by deputy mayor Tresslyn Smith, which recommended instead of rejecting the idea, it be deferred and put to the heritage advisory committee for advice.

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It was ultimately voted for, but split the council six to four.

Stirling was the first governor of the colony of Western Australia and played a part in setting up Bunbury, ordering the land to be surveyed and subsequently taking a large area himself.

He was also responsible for encouraging the killing of Indigenous populations, most notably leading an 1834 massacre in Pinjarra, which killed up to 80 Noongar people.

Cr Smith said she did not want the original recommendation to be “lost in the mist of time”.

Tresslyn Smith is running for Bunbury Mayor and council.
Camera IconDeputy mayor Tresslyn Smith moved the alternative motion, urging the importance of remembering history. Credit: Supplied/Supplied

“It is really important that we know where Bunbury originated with white settlement — we certainly know where it originated with our Indigenous people with a history of thousands of years,” she said.

“It would be nice also to try and establish where it then became part of the white part of this country, so on that basis Mr mayor, I suggest it does go back to the heritage committee.”

In her final remarks on the motion Cr Smith said Governor Stirling’s impact on the region was important to remember.

“It’s an important issue but we cannot forget our history and we cannot forget Stirling’s history in this part of the world either, we need to make that clear as well,” she said.

Cr Gabi Ghasseb spoke against the motion and advocated for recognising more diverse contributors to the history of Bunbury.

Gabi Ghasseb is running for Bunbury City Council.
Camera IconCr Gabi Ghasseb spoke against the motion put forward by Cr Smith. Credit: Paul Webster

“I believe Governor Stirling has already had the recognition and we should start looking at recognising other people,” he said.

“Councillor (Karen) Steele quite often says, ‘how about some females?’ I would suggest we should start looking at some female contributors to society.

“I feel this is just going to, maybe it sounds rude, but just wasting time. I think we should just only accept the executive recommendation and look at other worthy recipients, whether it’s Indigenous or whether it’s white or whether it’s multicultural even.

“Stirling’s had his recognition already done.”

Voting for the motion was Cr Smith as well as mayor Jaysen Miguel and councillors Todd Brown, Cheryl Kozisek, Marina Quain and Dr Parthasarathy Ramesh.

Councillors Ghasseb, Ben Andrew, Karen Turner and Cr Steele all voted against.

The heritage advisory committee will report back to the council for a final decision.

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