COUTTS SPEAKS: But will their votes count?
THE name of the village of Coutts Crossing should remain unchanged for many years after a decisive 183-13 vote against a proposed name change, says former Clarence Valley mayor Richie Williamson.
Mr Williamson was one of 15 speakers who addressed a crowd of about 200 people in the town's meeting place, Coronation Hall, on Wednesday night.
Mr Williamson, who was born and raised in the village and still lives there, said the vote would be a major stumbling block for those attempting to change the name.
The proposal to change has come largely from the region's indigenous people who say the village's name honours a person who murdered 23 members of the Gumbaynggir tribe in a mass poisoning at Kangaroo Creek in 1847.
Mr Williamson said the process of renaming through Clarence Valley Council and the Geographical Names Board would take into account the vote against changing the name recorded at the meeting.
"I hope after this meeting the people of Coutts Crossing can go to sleep tonight confident they will wake up and find they're still living in Coutts Crossing," he said.
Mr Williamson said the idea of renaming the village to right the wrong of Thomas Coutts's atrocity was misguided.
"Until you can prove the change of the name will change things for the better, it's not going to happen," he said.
The first indigenous speaker Lisa Southgate also assured the meeting there was no name change imminent.
She said a meeting in Grafton on June 12 did discuss a proposal for a name change, but had put nothing in place to move forward with it quickly.
"From our perspective there is nothing imminent from Aboriginal community for a name change at Coutts Crossing," she said.
"But we have had a good discussion around the history of the atrocity Thomas Coutts committed which is in line with the 2018 Reconciliation Week theme 'Let's not keep history a mystery'.
"Let's see what the people of Coutts Crossing can do."
Meeting convener Adrian Pryor said the numbers should speak for themselves.
"There is nothing politically binding in this vote," he said. "Its purpose was to give Coutts people a chance to have their say and their views recognised."