Controversy around the Shire of Perenjori’s acknowledgement of country, which pays respects to European settlers, has sparked debate about how the matter is handled by other Mid West local governments. While most councils in the Mid West have acknowledgements of country which do not refer to European settlers, there are a number which don’t follow the standard practice. Since 2019, the Shire of Perenjori have read out an acknowledgement at the beginning of their council meeting acknowledging the local Badymia people as well as European pioneers. Shire CEO Paul Anderson announced last week he would be looking to remove the reference to settlers in the Shire’s acknowledgement, following feedback from a local Aboriginal person. Until this month, the neighbouring Shire of Carnamah also referred to early European settlers in their acknowledgement of country, but that has now been removed. The Shire chose not to comment on its decision. The Shire of Mount Magnet reads an acknowledgement embracing “the heritage of the land” and pays respects “to Elders and Ancestors”, and acknowledges the “culture” of the “custodians of this country”. Mount Magnet shire president Jorgen Jensen said settlers shouldn’t be forgotten, and Perenjori’s statement was positive. “I think that’s forward-looking, that’s all. I don’t think the initial settlers who came out here — from a European perspective — should be completely forgotten,” he said. “At the end of the day, that was fairly hard times for a considerable period of years. I think it’s a good idea.” This is despite Heritage Link consultant Patricia Edwards stating that Perenjori’s statement disrespected the local Aboriginal people. “It is disappointing to see that and it discredits the Badimia people by saying you respect them and then pairing that with something that brings them down,” she said. Sandstone Shire president Beth Walton said the Shire council didn’t open meetings with an acknowledgement of country, but instead welcomed everybody to the meeting. Ms Walton confirmed there weren’t First Nations people residing in the town. Cue Shire president Ross Pigdon said having an acknowledgement of country had never been brought to the Shire of Cue, and regardless the council represented the community equally. “The Shire represents everyone and it didn’t matter who they were, how long they’ve been here or what they do. That’s what a council is meant to do,” he said. “When we go to a council meeting we represent all issues that happen for everybody in our community. We feel that we would be going a little one way and not the other.” Irwin Shire president Mike Smith said the Shire was in the process of implementing an acknowledgement of country early next year. “We are planning to finalise with more clarity in the next council meeting,” he said. Meekatharra Shire president Harvey Nichols told the Geraldton Guardian his personal opinion was he wouldn’t encourage an acknowledgement to country in council meetings because it was divisive. “We don’t need it. My family goes back 120 years, truth be told we were here before everyone else,” he said. “Farmers dominated local councils, it’s all about how you view history.” The Shire of Dandaragan provides an acknowledgement of country which recognises the traditional owners of the area, the Yued people, but Shire president Leslee Holmes said changes could be made following consultation with local Aboriginal people. “We have had some Aboriginal people in our Shire ask not to do an acknowledgement, as they feel it is patronising,” she said.