Councillors question welcome to country fee

A REPRESENTATIVE of Orange’s Aboriginal community should deliver the welcome to Wiradjuri country for free on Australia Day, according to several Orange councillors, despite the $200 fee going towards services for Aboriginal youth.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, Australia Day community committee member Cr Reg Kidd said he was “disturbed” he had to recite an acknowledgment of country when no one from the Aboriginal community came forward to deliver the welcome at the Australia Day celebrations in Cook Park.

“We saved $200 I suppose... [but] I thought it was quite poor not to apologise,” he said.

“I do object to paying for someone to come along to do that... in council we have staff who are indigenous we could get them to do it.”

Orange mayor Cr John Davis said he was “staggered” when he learned the committee paid a $200 fee for the welcome to country.

Fellow committee member Russell Turner said there had been discussion about asking a representative of the Orange Aboriginal Lands Council to deliver the welcome to country for free on Australia Day.

“If we have to do a welcome to country, and I don’t believe we should, but if it’s part of the system we should do it,” he said.

“The Australia Day committee works their buts off... it’s not too big an ask for an Aboriginal person to come along.”

STORY: ABORIGINAL LEADERS DEFEND WELCOME TO COUNTRY FEE

Cr Neil Jones criticised his fellow councillors for discussing the welcome to country in the open council meeting. 

“The welcome to country is very important... [but the Aboriginal Working Party] is the right and proper place to have this discussion,” he said.

Cr Kevin Duffy agreed and said there may have been a genuine reason why no one was able to attend to deliver the welcome.

But Cr Glenn Taylor said there was a lot of comment in the community about the lack of welcome.

“If there is a philosophical issue with Australia Day well send someone who doesn’t have that philosophical issue,” he said.

“I don’t see that we should let it pass without comment from council that it was disappointing that the allotted person or a representative didn’t turn up.

“The fees are irrelevant... but the fact is if they said they’d turn up then they should.”

clare.colley@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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