MEMBER for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan has weighed in on the upcoming City of Greater Bendigo council election, urging voters to research their candidates and reject those “preaching intolerance”.
Ms Allan, who is watching her fifth Bendigo council election since entering parliament in 1999, rarely makes public comment in the lead-up to local government polls.
But during a speech to parliament on Wednesday, Ms Allan addressed the issue directly.
“In Bendigo, there are some people who are running as a group who have been endorsed by those who have been opposed to the construction of the Bendigo mosque,” she said.
“Bendigo has a proud history of diversity and of supporting and welcoming new people to our community, but to support this we need to cherish and nurture this approach.
“This is not to be put at risk by people who want to try and block people from coming to our community by preaching intolerance.”
An anti-mosque Facebook page published its preferred order of candidates several weeks ago based on their views regarding diversity, multiculturalism and their historic opposition to the mosque.
Ms Allan said she was compelled to speak out, as City of Greater Bendigo councillors reflect the city as a whole.
She said if a candidate was not up-front about their views on diversity, then voters needed to ask “why?”.
“If some council candidates are not revealing their true motivations, then that is a concern,” Ms Allan said.
“You have to ask why, why are they not revealing their true intent?
“Local government is a really important level when it comes to planning matters. It also sets the tone for the whole community.
“Our community leaders speak on behalf of Bendigo on a state, national and even on an international level, like we have seen.”
She said those who worked to make Bendigo an attractive city for all deserved to be elected to council.