The ACT Government has undertaken the ACT Place Names Committee and Guidelines Review (PDF 2MB) in response to a resolution passed by the Legislative Assembly on 28 November 2018.
The Minister for Planning and Land Management, Mick Gentleman MLA, tabled the Review and the Government's response in the Legislative Assembly on 6 June 2019.
The Review looked at the processes for naming public places in the ACT, including the ACT Place Names Committee, the Place Names Guidelines and the opportunities for community input and feedback.
Generally, the Review found that the processes for naming public places in the ACT are modern and robust. The Review's recommendations included:
- The Committee update its renaming policy to provide better guidance to the community and an improved framework for assessing renaming proposals
- Better community input in the place naming process, including seeking community feedback on themes for suburbs and proposed names
- The development of an online web portal for the community to provide feedback or complaints on existing names
The Government has agreed to implement all recommendations from the Review and will do so within the next 12 months.
Review of existing place names
The review also called on the ACT Place Names Committee to review the naming of two public places names which have been the subject of significant community disquiet, being Haig Park and William Slim Drive. The particular names identified in the Assembly resolution are legacy issues that were named before self-Government and not under the current place naming processes.
William Slim Drive
William Slim Drive in the Belconnen District was named on 13 April 1976. The road is named to commemorate Field Marshal Sir William Joseph "Bill" Slim, (1891–1970) a British military commander and the 13th Governor-General of Australia (1953–1960).
The Government is aware of public allegations made against Sir William Slim. These have been widely published in local and national media since 2007. The Government has also received correspondence from alleged victims and others requesting that the name of William Slim Drive be changed.
On 6 June 2019, the Minister for Planning and Land Management announced his intention to rename William Slim Drive. The Minister announced that he would now undertake a process under the Public Place Names Act 1989 to consider relevant matters and consult with relevant parties before proceeding to a formal decision, which is expected to be made at the conclusion of the previously announced duplication of the road.
The Minister has requested the ACT Place Names Committee consider options for the renaming of William Slim drive and provide recommendations on future naming options.
Haig Park is named in commemoration of Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig of Bemersyde.
The ACT Government has received occasional feedback that the name Haig Park is inappropriate as it commemorates Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, the Commander of the British Expeditionary Force during the First World War. The success of Field Marshal Haig's military career is contested, with significant criticism of the Commander’s military strategies.
On 6 June 2019, the Minister for Planning and Land Management announced his decision to keep the name of Haig Park. The Minister has decided to have new signage installed to tell the contested history of Field Marshal Haig's wartime legacy, which will provide an opportunity to further inform discussion and debate around Australia’s experience in the First World War.