LIVE: Bendigo council meeting

Reporter William Vallely will be tweeting and posting a live video on Facebook of the council meeting from 6pm. Follow him on @williamvallely or watch the live stream here


8.00PM Councillors vote to provisionally name the Kangaroo Flat aquatic centre the “Gurri Wanyarra Wellbeing Centre”.

“Gurri Wanyarra” means Kangaroo Waterhole, which references the creek close to the facility, and was a name submitted by the Dja Dja Wurrung.

Cr Rod Fyffe said: “What we have traditionally done is to name things after the traditional owners of the land. We need a name that sends out a message that we are inclusive.

Cr James Williams said with over 60,000 years of living culture, it was not hard to come to the conclusion the facility should have an Indigenous name.

“We owe them (Indigenous community) a debt,” he said.

“This is not replaying a debt, but it is showing respect.

“It is one small step in a much bigger (City of Greater Bendigo) reconciliation action plan.

 “We have a long journey to go on with our Aboriginal ancestors.”

Cr Wrigglesworth said: “We do have to recognise not everyone will have a particular connection with (Faith Leech’s) achievements.”

“The traditional name is appropriate for our region – not just Kangaroo Flat.

“Comments in the media that naming Indigenous is pandering to political preference is offensive to the Indigenous community.”

Lockwood Ward representative Matt Emond said there is “certainly a power in language and place”. 

“It was not until we named Ulumbarra Theatre (in 2013) that I realised the the cultural significance of Bendigo,” he said.

Cr George Flack said he valued the name choice, but intended to lobby to try and name the existing Bendigo Aquatic Centre after another name put forward for the facility – the Faith Leech Wellbeing and Aquatic Centre – in honour of Bendigo’s only Olympic Gold medalist in swimming, Faith Leech.

7.15PM Changing the status of the Wellsford State Forest to a national park to better protect native trees is the next topic. 

Council and the community campaigned to upgrade the status of the forest in 2014.

The area is currently being assessed by the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council, as part of a Central Western Investigation. 

Wellsford State Forest from the air.

Wellsford State Forest from the air.

Cr Jennifer Alden said since its classification in the 1970s, an unlicensed and unsupervised fire wood collection “bonanza” has had a “massive impact on the environment”.

“For those who claim protecting the forest is simply locking it up – it couldn’t be further from the truth,” she said.  

Councillors vote to support a motion to endorse a council submission to the VEAC investigation.

The submission requests the Wellsford State Forest be upgraded in status to be protected under the National Parks Act 1975.  

7.05PM Councillors unanimously vote to request the minister for planning to authorise council to prepare a heritage overlay on the home of the historic Nanga Gnulle. 

7.00PM Councillors are discussing an amendment to apply a heritage overlay on the home at Strathdale’s Nanga Gnulle, which, given council initiated the overlay request, could cost the city $14,000.

The Nanga Gnulle estate was formerly used as a wedding venue until it was sold in 2014. 

The current owners plan to subdivide the 1.9 hectare property, removing the existing gardens.

Councillor Julie Hoskin said: “The heritage overlay over main building is the first step to preserving a building of important historical significance.”

Her sentiments were echoed by councillor Matt Emond.

Speaking in support of the motion, Cr Andrea Metcalf said the overlay doesn’t restrict subdivision on the site.

Plans to subdivide iconic Strathdale garden and wedding venue Nanga Gnulle sparked a community outpouring in 2016. Picture: NONI HYETT

Plans to subdivide iconic Strathdale garden and wedding venue Nanga Gnulle sparked a community outpouring in 2016. Picture: NONI HYETT

6.30PM Public question received regarding the chief executive officer position, asking whether five-year terms are enough.

Mayor O’Rourke said the issue of the CEO job was on the agenda this evening, meaning she was not at liberty to speak to the question.

Councillors will vote on whether to advertise the CEO job behind closed door at the end of tonight’s meeting.

6.25PM Mayor O’Rourke and chief executive officer Craig Niemann deliver speeches lauding retiring executive services manager Peter Davies, who has been involved with the city since its amalgamation 23 years ago. 

6PM Welcome to our live blog of the City of Greater Bendigo council meeting. A few important decisions for councillors to make this evening in front of a packed gallery.

Mayor Margaret O’Rourke says she “hasn’t seen it as busy as this”. 

Full August 16 council agenda