Shire accepts petition calling for Gaza ceasefire

March 4, 2024 BY

THE Surf Coast Shire council has resolved to accept a petition calling for a ceasefire in the conflict in Gaza, despite less than a quarter of the signatories living in the municipality.

At their meeting on Tuesday this week, a majority of councillors voted to accept the 112-signature petition, titled “Surf Coast Stands in Solidarity: Petition for Surf Coast Shire Gaza Motion”.

The motion also referred the petition to the shire’s general manager of strategy and effectiveness for consideration, and will require the shire to present a report about the petition to councillors within three months.

Of the 112 signatures, only 18 were from residents of the Surf Coast Shire, with 26 from other parts of Victoria, 67 from other Australian states, and one international signatory.

In their report to councillors, officers stated although the petition did not match the description of a petition in the council’s Governance Rules, there was a provision to accept it, and recommended the petition was accepted “in the interest of facilitating public participation in the

council’s process”.

The motion to accept the petition was carried, seven votes to two.

In a media statement released before the council meeting, Friends of Palestine – Torquay (FOTP) spokesperson Sarah Molnar urged the council to call for an immediate ceasefire.

“FOPT is encouraged by – and supports – the council’s approach relating to social justice, human rights and our community’s engagement and understanding of various issues beyond roads, rates and bins,” she said.

Polwarth MP Richard Riordan sent a letter to all shire councillors and shire chief executive officer Robyn Seymour ahead of the meeting, saying it was his view that “the overwhelming majority of Surf Coast ratepayers want their council focused on the local issues that matter to them”.

“As a State Member of Parliament I do not wish to comment on the rights or wrongs of the petition per se, but I do wish to express my profound disappointment at the potential acceptance of this petition and the expenditure of precious ratepayer funds with so little ratepayer support,” Mr Riordan wrote.

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