The proposed statue for McLachlan Park
The proposed statue for McLachlan Park Clarence Valley Council

Passionate plea over Maclean public art

A MACLEAN park and its history as a 'demarcation zone' is at the centre of a debate over a new statue.

The Scottish Town Association's proposal to install a work of art in McLachlan Park came before the Environment Planning and Community committee yesterday after being in the works for over a year.

In his deposition to council, representative of the Association, Warren Rackham said the group was simply "promoting Scottishness of Maclean for commercial and tourism benefit".

"Everywhere you travel in this country and indeed, the world, you will find contemporary art everywhere," he said.

"McLachlan Park is the only location for this iconic structure which will quickly become another focal attraction for the town."

However, deputy chair of the Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, Patricia Laurie, said she had been directed by the board and Yaegl community to "totally oppose" the proposal to place the artwork in McLachlan Park.

"I find it pretty disheartening that we have not been included or been consulted," she said.

"I stand for the Yaegl people in opposing it."

The objections stem from the parks history as a "demarcation zone" in which Aboriginal people could not pass into the town without an escort.

Ms Laurie said the group were not opposed to the statue being erected in another part of the town.

"(McLachlan Park) was our demarcation line, my father, his brothers and sisters, our grandparents and the grandparents before that weren't allowed past that particular area."

YTOAC chief executive Bill Walker said there was a distinct lack of Aboriginal themes around the town despite their long history in the area.

"You have the black history and you have the European history of one little town. There are no streets named after Aboriginal people, there are no poles painted with our artwork on them," he said.

"We would love to have our themes implemented into all town planning."

However, while Mr Rackham said in hindsight the group could have had "stronger consultation" with the Yaegl people he thought it was "no big deal".

"It's a contemporary image of a Scotsman in a Scottish town of Australia in a viable public area," he said.

"For some reason it has been blown right out of proportion even though it fits squarely with council's policy."

The officer recommendation is to accept the donation on the proviso that an alternative site, other than a site within the central park area is identified for installation.

The committee voted to postpone a decision on the matter until the full council meeting next week.



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