- Mosque matter to appear before High Court
- Mosque objectors take case to the High Court
- Court of Appeal rules in favour of mosque
- Court dismisses injunction against mosque construction
- Appeal planned in Supreme Court
- VCAT finds no negative impacts of Bendigo mosque
- Bendigo mosque passes planning tribunal
- All the coverage from the City of Greater Bendigo’s decision to approve the mosque
BENDIGO MOSQUE TIMELINE (CLICK ARROWS TO NAVIGATE)
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UPDATE 3.30pm: The Australian Muslims of Bendigo have released a statement welcoming today’s High Court decision to grant final planning approval for Bendigo’s first mosque.
The Muslim community wished to thank everyone who had supported them in the past two years as the appeals process made its way through the courts.
In the statement, the community stated the decision was “a testament that the judicial system of Australia is and always will uphold justice and fairness for all”.
“The Bendigo Muslim community has always supported peace, harmony and fairness, and will continue doing so,” the statement read.
“The Bendigo Islamic Centre will be a great asset to Bendigo. It will be a centre for understanding, education and cross cultural and inter-faith dialogue.”
The statement highlighted the importance of legal and democratic institutions, and recognised objectors’ rights to appeal the decision.
“We believe people have freedom to express their opinion, however it should be in a peaceful and respectful manner,” the statement read.
“We condemn any form of violence and intimidation. Aggression and violence cannot be the Australian way.”
The city’s Muslim community is made of about 300 people from 25 different nationalities, including Bendigo residents and international students.
The mosque can hold a maximum of 375 people, allowed on Eid and for Friday prayers.
UPDATE 2.20pm: The High Court rejected an appeal against the Bendigo mosque, finding it had little chance of success.
In their brief judgement on Wednesday morning, two High Court judges found the appeal would be an exercise in futility.
“We consider that an appeal has insufficient prospect of success,” the judgement read.
An extension of time would have been needed to get the appeal heard by the court, which the judges were unwilling to provide.
“There is no utility in granting such extension,” they found.
UPDATE 11.55am: A starting date for construction of Bendigo’s first mosque could be at least two years away as the Australian Islamic Mission begins seeking building permits.
The mission will also be required to raise the required funds to construct the $3.5 million mosque. Final design plans and tenders will be confirmed in the coming one to two years.
City of Greater Bendigo planning director Prue Mansfield said there could still be some before construction starts on Rowena Street.
“This is now just like any other project. It sometimes takes two or three years for a project to get from receiving its planning permit, to actually getting under construction,” she said.
“They have to raise whatever funds they need to finance it. They need to get a building permit.
“They can’t get a building permit until they have done all their detailed design plans ready for construction, go to tender, award it to a builder and start construction.”
The High Court decision to refuse to grant objectors leave to appeal means the mosque now has the required planning permit.
The decision was almost two years since the council first approved the proposal 7-2. The mosque then passed the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, the Court of Appeal and now the High Court.
Lead objector Julie Hoskin was ordered to pay full costs.
In that time, three anti-mosque protests were held in Bendigo placing a strain on police and council resources.
Bendigo mayor Rod Fyffe said it could take time to repair any damage done to the city’s reputation.
“I think perception has been damaged, but we are making sure that’s being repaired now with a whole range of activities going on, whether it be cultural or other events,” he said.
“It has brought the community together. We can move on from there much more quickly and certainly positively.
“This community will. It’s started already.”
The council came under criticism for its failure to conduct a “social impact study”, but the courts found such a study was not needed for a mosque to be approved.
Only local planning laws needed to be adhered to.
Cr Fyffe said the approval “exonerated” the council’s planning processes.
“We always knew that we had followed the due process, and today’s decision is a final decision and we are very pleased that it has come down in favour of the fact the mosque can go ahead,” he said.
“It really has been a long process, a difficult process, and I pay tribute to council who has stood by the decision it has made, and the council officers who put so much work into making sure it was done correctly in the first place.”
UPDATE 10.45am: The City of Greater Bendigo is addressing media after the High Court rejected an appeal against the Bendigo mosque, giving final approval to the project. Watch it live here:
UPDATE 10.30am: The City of Greater Bendigo has welcomed the High Court’s decision to reject an appeal against the Bendigo mosque, paving the way for its construction.
Mayor Rod Fyffe said the decision put an end to further appeal processes.
“All avenues for appeal have now been exhausted and the mosque can be built,” he said.
“People of all religions have the right to a place of worship and the vast majority of Greater Bendigo residents understand this.
“We are a welcoming and tolerant community but it is important to acknowledge this issue has been challenging for some. It is now time for the community to heal by putting aside its differences.
“We can do that by continuing to be respectful of anyone who has a different opinion to us, be that down the street, in the pub or in our workplaces. If we do that, then our reputation as a multicultural and inclusive community will continue to grow.”
The council will hold a press conference at 10.45am.
UPDATE 10am: The High Court has rejected an appeal against the Bendigo mosque, giving final approval to the project.
All legal avenues have now been exhausted.
A spokesperson for the High Court said the appeal was dismissed and lead objector Julie Hoskin will be required to pay full court costs.
The decision brings to an end a saga which stretched from June 2014, when the City of Greater Bendigo first approved the project on Rowena Street, East Bendigo.
Spokesperson for the Bendigo Muslim community Heri Febriyanto said it was pleasing to see the project take the next step.
He said they could now apply for building permits and other required permits to begin construction, while also carry out extra fundraising for the project.
EARLIER: Bendigo mosque objectors will find out this morning if they can take their appeal to the High Court.
Two High Court judges will announce whether they will grant leave to appeal.
If they do, another date will be provided to hear their case. The decision is expected to be handed down at 9.45am.
If the appeal is rejected, all legal avenues against the mosque will have been exhausted.
The mosque has already passed the City of Greater Bendigo, Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal and the Victoria Court of Appeal.
The City of Greater Bendigo has planned a press conference this morning to discuss the High Court decision.
More to come.