Momentum is building to change the name of the federal seat of McMillan.
Last week the sitting member of McMillan, Russell Broadbent, announced he had written to the Australian Electoral Commission with the suggestion his electorate be renamed Monash.
In a statement to the media, he cited a well-documented history of Angus McMillan, whose name has been connected with the mass murder of Gippsland’s indigenous people.
“It’s time to recognise that his name is no longer an appropriate one for this electorate,” Mr Broadbent said in the statement.
Mr Broadbent’s letter comes ahead of next year’s scheduled redistribution process, during which time the AEC will receive recommendations for any electorate name changes.
His suggestion also follows previous failed attempts by reconciliation groups who lobbied for a name change for the seat of McMillan in 2002.
His opponent, Labor candidate for McMillan Chris Buckingham, welcomed Mr Broadbent’s calls.
On Friday Mr Buckingham told The Express he had campaigned for a name change for some time and was glad consensus in the community was building.
“I think the community recognises that it’s inappropriate for us to venerate his (McMillan’s) name,” Mr Buckingham said.
“I think we shouldn’t look to hide history, we should recognise it, but having his name on the electorate is completely inappropriate.”
Mr Buckingham called for a community conversation, to involve Gippsland’s indigenous community, about finding a suitable name.
“While it’s wonderful to see momentum building behind the name change, it’s really important that the very people that were wronged are given full voice in the reconciliation process,” he said.
He said it was also essential descendants of McMillan and other Scottish families were respected and engaged.
Since reading a book about Gippsland’s past, Leongatha resident Max Semken began further investigating McMillan’s connection to massacres of indigenous people. He plans to write to the Boon Wurrung Foundation requesting a list of names of prominent Aboriginal ancestors from Gippsland as possible alternatives.
“(This is) a matter of pure respect to the local Aboriginal groups,” Mr Semken said.
“It’s a matter of respect to those people who have gone before us.”
Federal redistributions – or redrawing of federal boundaries – usually take place every seven years.
The redistributions ensure states and territories have representation in the House of Representatives in proportion to their population, with a similar number of voters in each electorate.