Mayor asked to cut speech

Mayor asked to cut speech

The Millicent RSL sub-branch has explained its reasons for asking Wattle Range Mayor Des Noll not to include the First Nations Acknowledgement of Country as part of his customary Anzac Day mid-morning address at the Cross of Sacrifice.

Since his election in 2018, Mayor Noll has included the Acknowledgement of Country as a prelude to describing the life and service of a fallen local servicemen whose name is listed on the cenotaph.

In a letter to Mayor Noll, the Millicent RSL sub-branch said he was still welcome to address the 2024 Anzac Day commemoration on April 25 and recommended he again refer to one of the fallen servicemen.

Millicent RSL sub-branch secretary Richard Taylor said the Acknowledgement of Country would now be done at the beginning of the mid-morning service.

“Thank you for your support of the veteran community over the years and your presence at our events is greatly appreciated,” Mr Taylor wrote.

His letter is included in the agenda of the April monthly meeting of Wattle Range Council which meets in Millicent this afternoon (Tuesday).

In response to queries from The SE Voice, Millicent RSL sub-branch president Chris Mathias said the request to Mayor Noll was to avoid a repetition of the Acknowledgement of Country.

“The South Australian branch of the RSL decided in 2023 the Acknowledgement of Country would be made at the beginning of every Anzac Day service across the State,” Mr Mathias said.

He said no decision had yet been taken on who would recite the Acknowledgement of Country at Millicent or its wording.

“It will be orientated to reflect the purpose of Anzac Day: that is honouring service to the nation and the sacrifice which followed,” Mr Mathias said.

Some Millicent First Nations residents have approached The SE Voice about the possibility of flying the First Nations flag at the Millicent Cross of Sacrifice on Anzac Day.

However, Mr Mathias said this is not possible under the national protocols of the RSL.

“They state the only flags to be flown at cenotaphs on Anzac Day are to be the Australian national flag and the New Zealand flag,” he said.

He said he was aware these two flags along with the First Nations flag were flown at each Anzac Day commemoration at Beachport.

“This is an event arranged by the Beachport community and not the RSL,” Mr Mathias said.

Mr Mathias pointed out that First Nations people in the armed forces had served under the Australian national flag.

At the request of The SE Voice, Mayor Noll provided this statement in response to the Millicent RSL invitation.

“I am disappointed that as the Mayor, an elected member representing all members of the Wattle Range Council Community, I am being advised by the Millicent RSL not to deliver an Acknowledgement of Country,” the Mayor said.

“Indigenous service men and women played a vital role in serving our country in a time of need and helped defend our freedom that is inclusive of all, freedom of speech and democracy that serves us today.”

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