8 May 2024

Michael Slater's name defaced on sporting oval signage

| Jarryd Rowley
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Michael Slater Oval

Michael Slater Oval has been at the centre of a local protest, with the former cricketer’s name being erased from signage. Photo: Supplied.

The debate around the name of a sporting oval at Wagga’s Bolton Park has again been thrust into the spotlight after controversial former cricketer Michael Slater’s name was erased with blue spray paint on the weekend.

Michael Slater Oval is one of three that make up the Bolton Park Precinct – the other two are named after Wagga cricketers Geoff Lawson and Mark Taylor.

Wagga Wagga City Councillor Jenny McKinnon posted a photo of the defaced sign to social media on Monday and reignited the debate about removing his name permanently.

“The public needs true role models in every sense of the word, not just their sporting achievements,” she declared.

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The controversy dates back to October 2021 when the former Australian opening batter was charged with stalking.

Other incidents, outbursts, and encounters with police followed.

The 54-year-old was recently denied bail by a Sunshine Coast court after being charged with domestic violence-related offences.

Cr McKinnon explained that Wagga City Council had changed its policy in 2023 to allow for the renaming of public places.

In light of the recent focus on violence against women and rallies across the country, she said it was time to remove Slater’s name from the park.

“When we name public places we make someone into a role model for the community through that honour of naming a place after them,” she said.

“Their personal lives and their business lives must reflect the values of the community.”

Cr McKinnon acknowledged the ongoing controversy around the renaming of or removing problematic monuments and said this was not a case of “cancel culture”.

“I think anyone who has achieved at that very highest level, whether it’s in sport, business or culture, they’ve always got that record. It hasn’t been taken away from them,” she explained.

“The public record also reflects whether there’s been a fall from grace.”

READ MORE Poll: Should Bolton Park’s Michael Slater Oval move forward with the times?

Cr McKinnon confirmed that she would again be raising the matter with Wagga City Council and suggested that one of the city’s outstanding female athletes could be recognised instead.

“I really want to see what the staff come up with but I have suggested that I would like it to be recognition for a female,” she said.

Last August, Region Riverina published an article recommending the oval be renamed to represent the growing number of female sporting talent from the region.

A poll attached to the article found 36 per cent of people who took part voted for former Matilda Sally Shipard, while former rugby union player Alicia Quirk made up 23 per cent of the vote, and Cricket World Cup winners Alex and Kate Blackwell were close behind on 22 per cent.

Mr Slater isn’t the only tarnished Wagga sports personality in the news this week.

Two time AFL premiership winner Wayne Carey recently had his name blocked from ‘Legend status’ at the NSW Sporting Hall of Fame by the AFL due to his history of domestic violence-related charges.

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