Call to rename Blacktown City as Whitlam City

Digital mischief: Brenden Budd

Digital mischief: Brenden Budd

THE late Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam hailed Blacktown as his "temple of victories".

Now his recent death has fuelled controversy to rename Blacktown City in his honour, which came from an unlikely source last week.

A mayoral minute made by Labor councillor Stephen Bali paid tribute to Mr Whitlam and called for an urgent submission to the NSW Geographical Names Board to call the future suburb in the rezoned Area 20 precinct as Whitlam.

Opposite Rouse Hill Town Centre area, the precinct will consist of 2500 homes for 6400 residents and a new station on the North West Rail Link line.

The ACT government has confirmed the next suburb developed in Canberra will be called Whitlam.

The mayoral minute sparked a heated debate in the chamber, where the Liberal councillors said it needed further discussion at a future policy meeting.

They had the numbers to oppose the minute, later reversed by Labor.

But Liberal Karlo Siljeg doesn't think renaming Blacktown local government area as Whitlam is too radical.

"It would be a game changer to carry the legacy of Whitlam" - — Liberal Councillor Karlo Siljeg

In the chamber, he said Blacktown City "deserved" to be re-named Whitlam.

"It would be a game changer to carry the legacy of Whitlam," he later told the Blacktown Sun.

"We are the third largest LGA in Australia. I've talked to a lot of people in the area and they agree a name change should be considered.

"A lot of people don't associate with the Blacktown name."

Cr Siljeg believed naming a future suburb wouldn't be a fitting tribute to Mr Whitlam.

"We need to have this debate and not just call a small suburb off Schofields after him" - — Cr Siljeg

"We need to have this debate and not just call a small suburb off Schofields after him," he said.

"Blacktown has grown as a city. Another 15 suburbs will be added to Blacktown City in the next 10 years. Blacktown will consist of 60-odd suburbs by then."

Cr Bali said he thought he had the Liberals' support for the mayoral minute and would not have lodged it if he believed otherwise.

In response to Cr Siljeg's comment, he said: "We've argued for the last 10 years whether to change the name of Blacktown," he said.

"Most people don't want it changed."

The debate will be reignited in a fortnight after the Liberals lodged a rescission motion.

‘‘Blacktown has a lot of heritage behind it, can’t we just be proud of that heritage and respect it for what it is?’’ - — Sue England

Renaming of the the city and naming of the future suburb sparked a mixed reaction on Facebook.

‘‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it I say,’’ Sue England wrote.

‘‘Blacktown has a lot of heritage behind it, can’t we just be proud of that heritage and respect it for what it is?’’

Yvonne Myob added:

‘‘What a joke! How long has it been called BLACKTOWN? Since 1862! This sort of grubby behaviour comes up every few years just so these grubby councillors get five minutes of fame! It’s 2014, time to grow up people and leave what has been around for before we were all born as it is.’’

But Cr Siljeg’s suggestion did have some support.

‘‘I like the change as we draw away from a name that has discriminative overtones,’’ George Ayoub wrote.

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