Council split on ‘racist’ call

Councillor Jim Memeti. 117594

By CASEY NEILL

“ALL Anglos are voting against this decision.”
This comment from Councillor Jim Memeti at Monday night’s council meeting sparked cries of racism from his colleagues.
It came as Cr Peter Brown spoke to a motion about selling land in Springvale to Islamic school Minaret College.
“I’m trying to explain why I’ve changed my mind and effectively Cr Memeti has called me a racist for doing so,” he said.
But Cr Memeti was quick to defend his remarks.
“I didn’t call Cr Brown a racist I said ‘all Anglos are voting against this decision’,” he said.
Mayor Sean O’Reilly brushed off a call from Cr Brown to kick Cr Memeti out of the meeting.
“I’d ask Cr Memeti not to address things on a racial basis,” he said.
In the cold light of day, Cr Memeti stood by his comments.
“I just said to some of my fellow councillors all the Anglo-Saxons are voting for this,” he said.
He said the “multicultural councillors” had voted in favour of selling the land to Minaret and the Anglo-Saxons had not.
“I didn’t say they were racist or anything like that,” he said.
Cr Memeti said he didn’t foresee any tensions going forward.
“What happens on the floor stays on the floor and we move on together for the betterment of our community,” he said.
“It’s our responsibility to move on.
“To me it’s all done and dusted.”
Cr John Kelly said Cr Memeti was “not the sharpest tool in the shed with a comment like that”.
“He called us Anglos. That is so racist,” he said.
“I’m really upset.
“It was really terrible.
“It was about saving that bit of park down at Springvale.
“It’s a shame Jim has turned this into a racial issue.”
Cr Matthew Kirwan said the five councillors who voted against the sale acted to preserve the land for all Springvale residents, whatever their ethnic backgrounds or faiths.
“Having been at the forefront of efforts by council to assist asylum seekers and refugees, and a strong supporter of the Interfaith Network, I found that implication particularly offensive.
“This is an open space decision, pure and simple,” he said.
“It could have been Minaret College it could have been a state school, it could have been a Catholic school, it could have been a not-for-profit like Salvation Army … ”
Cr Peter Brown said he based his decision on feedback from the public.
“They were from a variety of different ethnic groupings,” he said.
“It wasn’t just blue-eyed blondes making submissions.
“Jim might be happy to leave it all behind but he has to remember that mud does stick.
“I think it will stick to him on this occasion.
“I think his comments did him more harm than anyone in the room.”
Cr Roz Blades said councillors would have to be professional and move on.
“I have,” she said.
“Everybody believed their argument was genuinely right.
“Everyone was passionate.
“That’s where you get the big throw up of emotions all over the place.
“People are feeling a bit bruised but we’ve got a city to run here.”
Save Glendale Reserve spokesman Mark Dalton said the decision to abort the sale was great news “soured by the disgusting behaviour of Cr Memeti who pulled out his racism card again”.
“That’s been the furthest thing from my mind all the way through,” he said.
“We were invited to go to the college to have a look around. It is a very well-run school.
“I’ve got nothing against the school. It’s the loss of the park that’s the problem.”

Read about what sparked the heated exchange …

2 COMMENTS

  1. Cr Memeti is forgetting that he actually said this to public who attended the meeting also. The councillors might be happy to ignore what he did then that is their decision but I think he has an obligation to apologise to the public. I think should be done at the next council meeting so it is recorded! If we made a comment like that we would not get away with it, why should he? Also under under the local law: PROCEDURE: PART 9 BEHAVIOURAL CONDUCT DURING COUNCIL MEETINGS http://www.greaterdandenong.com/document/32/local-laws
    106. Conduct – Councillors
    Councillors must conduct themselves in a courteous, orderly and respectful manner, and must respect the authority of the Chair at all times. Councillors must adhere to the Code of Conduct – Councillors at all times.
    Also under the Councillors code of conduct: http://www.greaterdandenong.com/document/14527/councillor-code-of-conduct
    Primary Principle of Councillor Conduct a Councillor must comply with section 76B of the Act which states that a Councillor must:
    (a) act with integrity;
    General Councillor Conduct Principles
    In addition to acting in accordance with the primary principle of Councillor conduct specified in section 76B,
    in performing the role of a Councillor, a Councillor must comply with section 76BA of the Act which states that a Councillor must:
    (a) avoid conflicts between his or her public duties as a Councillor and his or her personal interests and obligations;
    (c) treat all persons with respect and have due regard to the opinions, beliefs, rights and responsibilities of other Councillors, council officers and other persons;
    (d) (d) exercise reasonable care and diligence and submit himself or herself to the lawful scrutiny that is appropriate to his or her office.
    Legislation and the City of Greater Dandenong: All Councillors will:
    • treat all people with courtesy and respect, recognising there are legitimate differences in opinion, race, culture, religion, language, gender and abilities. This includes:
    – treating members of the community with dignity and ensuring that neither offence nor embarrassment is caused;
    – treating fellow councillors with respect, even when disagreeing with their views or decisions;

    So now that this info has been shared, do you think the council then has the obligation to discipline Cr Memeti for his actions?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Good decision by the majority of Councilors to not sell the “Glendale Reserve” and to keep the open space available to all the community. Just a shame that Cr Memeti’s unfair criticism of his fellow Councilors as racist, everyone’s opinion should be valued and respected. Remember we live in a democracy and this should be supported.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Comments are closed.

Your first stop before buying a home. View the whole picture.