Griffith’s reputation is still tarnished by the murder of Donald Mackay, according to mayor John Dal Broi, but the city is trying to move into the future.
The story of a mafia stronghold in rural Australia had inspired several books and even a television series.
“It’s a blot on our history, but nobody is trying to sweep it under the carpet, we live with the memory but we have to move on,” Councillor Dal Broi said.
“I don’t think there’s one local person that will ever forget what happened and even if his body was found I don’t think it would remove the stigma in the community.
“But it happened in a particular generation and they’re getting older and older and as the young ones grow up, they should not be held responsible for something that happened 40 years ago.”
Mr Mackay was actively involved in public life, from service clubs to even standing for the Liberal Party twice. Deputy mayor Dino Zappacosta, who stood as a Country Party candidate against Mr Mackay in 1973 and 1976, got to know him well during those years.
“I always felt he was very honourable and an upstanding member of the community,” Cr Zappacosta said.
“Maybe I should have taken a more forceful stand to carry on his work when he disappeared, but I just hope somewhere along the line we can shake it off and leave it behind us.”
Terry Jones, who was editor of The Area News at the time of Mr Mackay’s disappearance, said the only way for Griffith to move on was to face the truth and own it.
“They need to put it our there for all the world to see,” Mr Jones said.
“The concerned citizens of Griffith led the fight for justice for 20 years, they deserve more credit for it.”