• Residents of Brisbane have been changing 'Boundary Streets' to 'Boundless Streets' (Change.Org)Source: Change.Org
Are the names of Brisbane streets holding the city back, or a reminder of how not to treat Aboriginal Australia? A petition calling for a change sparks debate.
Andrea Booth

1 Feb 2016 - 4:26 PM  UPDATED 2 Feb 2016 - 4:50 PM

"I really don't understand the basis of the call for changing the names, or why council would consider it," Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Curtis Pitt told NITV News on Tuesday.

Mr Pitt's statement comes after reports over the weekend by Fairfax Media, that Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk would look into a change.org petition calling that the names of Brisbane's 'Boundary Streets' be changed in consultation with the local Indigenous community.

"The boundaries that ran through Brisbane as a barrier to Indigenous people are a shameful, but a real part of our shared heritage, and to rename the streets would be like trying to rewrite history," said Minister Curtis Pitt.

Instead, he says Queensland must learn from its past to achieve "true reconciliation" between Indigenous and other Australians.

Boundary Streets in Brisbane's inner city got their name in the early history of the city in an effort to segregate local Jagera and Turrbal people from British se­ttlers.

'To rename the streets would be like trying to rewrite history.'

Petition organiser Michael Colenso says the names are oppressive.

"These out-dated street names hold the entire city of Brisbane [Meanjin] back from meaningful progression as a city, and peoples committed to truthful and respectful harmony."

Brisbane-based Aboriginal activist Sam Watson says he prefers transparency.

"That name [Boundary Street] is written into the blood of our people," Sam Watson told NITV News.

"To remove that name would be washing away the blood and history of our people."

However, Mr Watson says that doesn't mean every name involving Australia's past should stay the same.

He cites Townsville as an example. The far north Queensland city was named after Robert Towns who was involved in slave trading, or 'blackbirding', of around 50,000 South Sea Islander people who were forcibly taken to Bundaberg, Queensland, between 1863 and the early 20th Century to slog in sugar cane plantations.

"Townsville is giving honour and recognition to a person who made his fortune from the atrocious slave trade," he says. "That name certainly does need to be changed."