North Melbourne street to honour former Victorian Premier Joan Kirner

North Melbourne street to honour former Victorian Premier Joan Kirner
Sean Car

A new street in North Melbourne will be named after Victoria’s first and only female Premier Joan Kirner, after City of Melbourne councillors voted in favour of a proposal put forward by a developer. 

Located within developer MAB Corporation’s new “Academy” precinct, which includes the new North Melbourne Primary School campus, Kirner St will run between Molesworth and Hardwicke streets after councillors gave the nod to the new name at the Future Melbourne Committee meeting on December 6. 

Joan Kirner was the 42nd Premier of Victoria and remains the only woman to have served in the role in the state’s history. She passed away in 2015 and is survived by her husband Ron and three children Michael, David and Kate, who have supported the naming proposal. 

Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece described Ms Kirner as a “remarkable Melburnian, a remarkable Victorian and a remarkable Australian”, who the City of Melbourne was proud to be memorialising.


“Since her death in 2015, we have seen a range of things named after her; a Victorian scholarship program, a maternity clinic at Sunshine Hospital and a tunnel boring machine for the Metro Tunnel project. And tonight, we can add a road in North Melbourne to that list,” Cr Reece said. 


Cr Rohan Leppert said was delighted to be recognising an “extraordinary Victorian” with the Kirner family’s support, and that being located between a new public school and public housing was “wonderfully symbolic” for Joan Kirner. 

However, the process to name the new street prompted Cr Leppert to move a motion later in the meeting calling on the council to draft a road naming policy which considered moving towards a more “proactive council approach to naming” led by the community.  

Namely, the motion responded to a need to consider the “formal role of Traditional Owners in proposing names for new streets” and prioritise Aboriginal language names, as well as the recognition of “historically significant women”. 

Cr Leppert said this would be particularly important with opportunities to name dozens of new streets as part of the Arden urban renewal project, as well as in Fishermans Bend and Macauley. 

Cr Dr Olivia Ball added that with developers having often led street naming processes, it was time for a naming a policy which addressed current “shortcomings” to ensure the “public has a justifiable stake in the naming of public places”. 

“I think most people would be surprised to know that developers never name streets, being public places,” Cr Dr Ball said. “Box Hill has a cluster of streets named for British and Irish rivers … Carlton has a cluster of streets named for British aristocracy like Drummond, Elgin and Cardigan [streets].” 

The 30-day public notice period for the proposal, which heard feedback from the North and West Melbourne Association and Hotham History Project, saw a series of suggestions put forward to name the street after luminary figures with a greater connection to the North Melbourne area. 

The council’s draft naming policy will seek to:  

  • Codify public engagement standards, including methods of engagement that seek earlier ideas for and feedback on potential names prior to formally testing levels of community support;
  • Determine when and how engagement with land owners in precincts should be initiated, ahead of subdivision and road naming processes; and 
  • Explore whether the policy should take in the naming of places beyond roads. 

Discussions on the council’s future road naming policy were followed by a separate motion on Melbourne’s statues, with Cr Reece highlighting the underrepresentation of women among the city’s monuments. 

Of the 580 statues within the municipality, only nine currently depict women, of which five are on City of Melbourne land – something Cr Reece said required “action in both public and private spaces”. 

In unanimously supporting the motion, councillors have called on the council’s public art advisory panel to prioritise and identify new opportunities to commemorate significant women, while requesting that management enable the short-term delivery of “at least three new statues depicting women”. •


Caption: Joan Kirner.

Photo: John Lamb. 

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