In a heated debate on Tuesday 12/03/13, Ryde Council defeated an attempt by Liberal Councillor Pickering to politicize a Red Cross Refugee Assistance programme which provides temporary accommodation for refugee families and their children.
In what can only be described as politicking at its worst, Clr Pickering sought to make political mileage from an alleged incident at Macquarie university based entirely on his reading of press reports.
Labor Councillors’ Laxalea and Simon spoke strongly against what they described as dog whistling by the Liberal Party in Ryde.
“It is no surprise to me that Councillor Pickering is bringing this motion to council tonight. It is quite clear that he, along with John Alexander and other Liberals in Ryde will stoop to the lowest of lows in an attempt to score political points.” Clr Simon said “it is an absolute disgrace that they are using inflammatory language to describe some of the most vulnerable members of our community.”
The Refugee Council of Australia was informed about what happened and then wrote to the Mayor expressing their disappointment in the Liberal Councillors’ action.
“The saddest aspect of the Motion by Pickering is his failure to acknowledge the massive contribution that immigrants and refugees have made to Australia. Some great Australians came to this land as refugees. Had Councillor Pickering bothered to research the matter he also might have discovered that the policy of temporary accommodation was introduced by the Liberal Federal Government in 2005."
With Ryde City’s annual Harmony Day around the corner, Clr Laxale proposed that rather than demonizing refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, that Ryde Council should promote harmony, protect cultural diversity, and to welcome the contribution that such groups make to our community.
This motion was passed by 11 votes to 1, with Liberal Councillor Pickering in the dissenting minority.