31 December 2013
With the end of the year comes a two month break in Council meetings, with Council having concluded its formal business for 2013 at its final meeting on 17 December.
In the mix of a large agenda (which considered the St Petersburg Sister City relationship and the East West Link among many other significant items) was an important decision which grapples with the history of Melbourne, specifically the story of the first men to be hanged by the Government.
Indigenous freedom fighters Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner were the first two men executed in Melbourne (at Old Melbourne Gaol) in 1842. The story of Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner is a bloody one, and a contested one. But whilst opinions on the merits of creating memorials to the men are going to differ, Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner were hanged at a time in history when race relations were characterised by guerrilla war and martial law, and so their story helps to explain Melbourne’s history and the history of Government’s relationship with indigenous people.
Councillors have worked on this Council and the previous Council towards Government properly recognising this important history.
The motion moved by Greens Cr Oke on 17 December called for the finalisation of the proposal to commemorate Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner, through a permanent marker but also through a series of “living events”.
Council also endorsed a paper on the historical significance of Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner (taken directly from the public report from Council officers available at the agenda link at the beginning of this post), which is a significant contribution towards Government recognition of this history – it’s well worth a read.
The 172nd anniversary of the execution of Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner will be observed at the annual Commemoration Ceremony on 20th January 2014 at noon on the corner of Bowen & Franklin Sts Melbourne.
UPDATE: The Age has reported on Cr Oke’s motion on the anniversary of the execution of Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner, 20 January.