A South West council has undertaken an emotional debate over the future of welcome to country and acknowledgement of country at its events and meetings, which will now see its policy undergo a review. The Shire of Harvey debated the issue on Tuesday following a request by Cr Craig Carbone which Shire president Michelle Campbell admitted had brought “unwelcome attention” to the council. One councillor was brought to tears as she rejected the move, with elected members discussing the topic for 40 minutes at this week’s meeting. Cr Carbone told attendees he had received support from “hundreds and hundreds” of people since he brought his notice of motion last month. In response to a speech by Harvey Aboriginal Corporation chair Greg Little about him supporting the adoption of the council’s policy on the issue in 2019, Cr Carbone admitted the decision had “never sat comfortably” with him. “When the vote went, I thought it was in the best interests of the council at the time that we made it a unanimous vote and that’s what I did, but it didn’t mean that I agreed with it,” he said. “I didn’t then and I don’t now.” Cr Carbone said welcome to country and acknowledgement of country was doing the “Aboriginal cause” harm as the Australian public was “sick of it”. “We’ve seen as recent as the weekend, when someone got up to do an acknowledgement of country in South Australia, she got booed down,” he said. “We’ve seen the Boyup Brook Shire now revolt against the dual naming of the Blackwood River, and this is only going to get worse as time goes on if we keep doing this.” Cr Carbone highlighted the costs of conducting a welcome to country, noting a recent personal experience when an Aboriginal family approached a service organisation he is a member of to ask for a donation towards the cost of their daughter attending a State tennis competition in Perth. “I ask you this — what’s wrong with the system when an Aboriginal family has to write to a (service) club, where I have got to go and sell sausages off a barbecue to raise money to send her to Perth, when we’re handing out $500 for people to come and say an acknowledgement to country,” he said. Cr Tiny Holly said he had recently attended an event where repeated acknowledgments of country had “split” the attendees. “I absolutely think, hand on heart, that it’s making everyone more racist, and dividing the country all around the place,” he said. Cr Holly noted he was supporting Cr Carbone’s proposal “for the sake of the country”. “You know, the places that we aren’t allowed to go to because they’re Aboriginal owned and that, they were made by someone higher up than us,” he said. “They’ve been here for millions of years, and we’re not allowed to go on them, and you know, people don’t like that.” Cr Robyn Coleman took issue with those comments, being brought to tears as she noted racial segregation was still in place when she was in high school. “It’s causing me pain and upset because of the emotion and the hurt, that I know, that I’ve seen firsthand throughout Western Australia, let alone here in Harvey,” she said. While acknowledging former councillor Amanda Lovitt’s speech in which she highlighted the potential Shire funding to be put at risk if the council scrapped recognition of First Nation’s people, Cr Coleman argued it was not the issue. “It’s about relationships. Funding is about relationships, community is about relationships, respect is about relationships,” she said. Cr Wendy Dickinson said she had not had any residents within the Shire approach her in support of Cr Carbone’s proposal, and not all of the examples of support Cr Carbone had forwarded through to fellow elected members were from residents. “I do not think that this is a progressive motion for the Shire,” she said. “I think it is divisive, I think it’s disrespectful and I think it will cost the Shire in reputation as well as possibly funding and resources.” The vote was lost 2-9, with all but Cr Carbone and Cr Holly voting against the proposal. Cr Campbell then made an alternative proposal to have the 2019 policy brought to the council for review, following what she described as a “lack of dialogue”, which was passed 9-2.