Waverley Council decided at an extraordinary meeting on October 26 to remove two Greens Councillors, one of whom was a deputy Mayor, from their committee positions and posts, after a previous debate over a motion on the Gaza war. The other is the council’s only First Nations councillor.
The controversial decision came a day after Canterbury-Bankstown Council decided, unanimously, to support a motion calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and to fly the Palestinian flag until a ceasefire is declared.
Labor and Liberal councillors in Waverley tabled the motion to remove Deputy Mayor Ludovico Fabiano and Greens Councillor Dominic WY Kanak from various committees following their effort to amend a motion supporting Israel’s war.
“With this tragic conflict in Gaza and Israel, this is not the time for politicians to seek political mileage from this conflict on the other side of the planet,” Fabiano said on his Greens for Waverley Ward Facebook page.
“I have, and will continue to, condemn the attack by Hamas on Israeli civilians. I have, and will continue to, condemn the killing of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli military. I have and will continue to advocate for peace with justice. Peace comes from dialogue not bullets.”
Fabiano told the council: “The issue is essentially about the right to express a view which is different to those around you.”
Fabiano said he and WY Kanak had unsuccessfully tried to move amendments that they believed “responded to the tragic events”. He said his “crime” was to include in the amendments to the Israel/Gaza motion “a recognition of the trauma caused to the civilians of Gaza at the hands of the Israeli military, just as the motion already recognised the atrocities against the Israeli civilians at the hands of Hamas”.
“We have, and will always, show complete compassion for all civilians caught up in this tragedy” including the “well-being of our local Jewish community”.
Fabiano said at the ordinary Waverley Council meeting the previous week, the Liberals and Labor councillors “jointly put forward a one-sided motion on the events in Israel and the crisis in Gaza. The Greens councillors’ attempts to have input to the draft motion prior to the meeting were ignored.”
“Clr WY Kanak and I both unequivocally condemned the Hamas attack in our addresses to Council and moved amendments, before rightly voting against the Liberal-Labor motion, as it failed to acknowledge Israeli responsibility for the killings of Gazan civilians.”
Newly elected NSW Council for Civil Liberties President Lydia Shelly said Fabiano and WY Kanak’s views “reflect non controversial statements in support of human rights and international humanitarian law”.
Labor MP Tony Burke told ABC Radio National on October 27 that he agreed with the Canterbury-Bankstown Council motion.
“We can’t say we only grieve for certain people who are slaughtered. We can’t have a situation as a nation where we only formally acknowledge particular deaths. I’m really glad that the council made that decision. I’m very proud that it was my local council,” he said.
“The views held by the Deputy Mayor and Wy Kanak do not warrant their removal. We must remain vigilant and protect our democracy at all levels – including in our communities and in our local councils,” Shelly said.
She said their removal “signifies a very concerning slide towards silencing those whose views may not conform with those who wield political power. There is no place in Australia for this to be normalised.
“Attempts to curtail or use any political processes to shut down dissenting views is undemocratic and potentially an abuse of power.”
[Sign a petition to reinstate the former Deputy Mayor Ludovico Fabiano here.]