WITH voting already under way and Saturday being the final day for Yes or No votes to be cast in the Voice to Parliament referendum, four Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors have publicly stated their views.
Just four of the shire’s 11 councillors issued a declaration stating they will vote Yes, although all of their colleagues were given the opportunity to add their name in support of the Voice.
The four councillors – Despi O’Connor, Sarah Race, Simon Brooks and David Gill – are urging ratepayers to follow their lead and also vote Yes.
A statement issued by the four councillors said they had spoken to First Nations businesses and community groups who “will be devastated if the community does not use the power of the ballot box to support them”.
“We urge our Mornington Peninsula Shire residents to support what is right for our beautiful local area, for our state, and for Australia’s future as a place where everyone matters and where the world’s oldest living culture is embraced and celebrated. The only way to do this is to vote Yes.”
In what could be seen as break from its regular environmental stance, the Save Westernport group’s steering committee in August decided to publicly support the Yes vote.
“The biggest threat to our planet is climate change, we need to now join forces and walk together to meet this crisis,” the group has stated.
“If you believe Indigenous Australians are the First Australians, and should be recognised as that, then it’s simple, vote Yes.”
Save Westernport’s secretary Julia Stockgit did the group “acknowledges the Bunurong as the traditional owners of Western Port … and we have been calling for a more thorough and appropriate recognition of the Bunurong, and all First Nations people, since we formed in 2018”.
“In our submissions to government our members have also advocated for better support for Indigenous groups to allow more meaningful participation in decision making processes, particularly on environmental and planning matters.”
Stockgit said traditional owners offered “unique perspectives that traditional knowledge and experience can bring to government deliberations on important matters under their consideration”.
“Members of the Save Westernport steering committee believe that constitutional recognition of Australia’s First Peoples is long overdue, and we support this important step towards agreement-making for our future and truth-telling about the past,” Stockgit said.
“Save Westernport is confident that Australians are ready to progress with the conversations, and the listening, that an Indigenous Voice to parliament will make possible.”