28 May 2024

Wagga Council backs a name change for Michael Slater Oval

| Jarryd Rowley
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Michael Slater Oval has been at the centre of a local protest

Michael Slater Oval has been at the centre of a local protest with the former cricketer’s name being removed from signage due to his history of domestic violence-related offences. Photo: Supplied.

Michael Slater Oval will officially be renamed following Wagga Wagga City Council’s decision at its most recent meeting.

The oval has been in headlines for the past month after a vandal spray-painted the signage of the oval, removing the ‘Michael Slater’ portion of the sign.

Mr Slater has a list of charges and convictions related to allegations of stalking and domestic violence dating back to 2021.

Council workers spent the past couple of weeks working on a report to determine whether a name change would be suitable or whether it would break any of the existing naming policies.

READ ALSO Michael Slater’s name defaced on sporting oval signage

The report delivered during the 27 May ordinary meeting recommended the name be changed.

Councillors debated for almost half an hour on the matter with councillors Foley, Kendell and Henderson all voting against the name change.

The three councillors highlighted the sporting achievements of Mr Slater and his contributions to the city before his recent fall from grace.

“Michael unfortunately, has suffered from and continues to suffer from an identified and diagnosed medical mental health issue,” Cr Kendall said.

“His recent behaviours have been because of that illness.

“What is proposed, is to carry out community punishment to somebody who’s suffering effectively, a long-term medical episode and those behaviours born from that long-term medical episode.

“This action tonight will in no way alter or repair any damage done by the actions of this person.”

Mayor Dallas Tout and Deputy Mayor Amelia Parkins expressed their concerns about the messaging that keeping the name would present.

“Since the escalation of this issue over the last several weeks I’ve received direct feedback from a number of members of the community; the majority are in favour of the recommended action,” Cr Tout said.

“As is confirmed in the report tonight, the intention is not to impact our sporting Hall of Fame position Mr Slater has.

“Tonight is about council and the community standing up together and stating that these convictions do not meet what the community expects of someone for whom a council facility may be named.”

Cr Parkins agreed, arguing that children who partake in sports at the oval should look up to a figure with a less checkered history.

“What we’re talking about tonight is a statement on behalf of Council that we don’t condone domestic violence in any scenario, regardless of the situation or the person,” she said.

“I don’t think that we can differentiate between the person and the cricket star. It’s the same person.

“Every Saturday morning, my son plays soccer on Michael Slater Oval and I don’t want to have to say to him that Michael Slater was a wonderful cricketer but, he’s also done some terrible things to women.

“It’s not a conversation that I want to have with a four- or 10-year-old, but a conversation that council has stood up for and what we believe is right in the community.”

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

The future naming of the oval will now be up for public exhibition in the coming days.

Region Riverina initially kicked off discussions about a potential name change in August last year with the suggestion that the oval be renamed in honour of the city’s deserving female athletes.

The article put forward alternates such as former cricket World Cup winners Alex and Kate Blackwell, former Matilda Sally Shippard and Olympic gold medalist Alicia Quirk.

A recent poll by Region Riverina also found that 72 per cent of people who voted were also in favour of the name change.

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