The deputy mayor of a Sydney council has been sacked after trying to amend a motion about the Israel-Gaza conflict to call out “war crimes” by Israel.
- Two Greens councillors were removed from positions on Waverley Council
- Mayor Paula Masselos says the deputy mayor was removed as he has lost the confidence of the community
- Councillor Ludovico Fabiano said it wasn’t right for him be removed for having a different perspective
At last week’s meeting, Waverley Council voted on a motion to condemn the attack on Israeli civilians by Hamas and give $10,000 to Jewish community organisations in their area.
Former deputy mayor Ludovico Fabiano backed fellow Greens councillor Dominic Wy Kanak’s amendment to also condemn “war crimes perpetrated by a right-wing Israeli government including the bombing of Palestinian civilians”.
The amendment further called for “all perpetrators to be held accountable for their actions in accordance with international law” and “an end to the war in Gaza”.
The amendments were voted against by all other members of council.
Councillors then called an extraordinary meeting on Thursday night, where Cr Fabiano was voted out of his deputy mayor position.
Waverley Mayor Paula Masselos told ABC Radio Sydney Cr Fabiano wasn’t removed over the amendment, but because he had lost the confidence of the community.
“We actually received 2,600 signatures on a petition, we had more than 150 emails — the community was absolutely outraged,” Cr Masselos said.
“[Deputy mayor] is a leadership role and as leaders we’re meant to be working for our community and looking for unity and resilience and not being provocative.”
After the amendments were defeated, the two councillors voted against the motion.
‘Democracy took a step backwards’
In a Facebook post, Cr Fabiano said he was disappointed to be sacked as deputy mayor “for standing up for compassion and peace for the civilians of Israel and Palestine”.
“It is not appropriate or right to respond by sacking those of a different perspective,” Cr Fabiano said.
“Democracy took a step backwards in Waverley tonight.”
Cr Fabiano retained his position as a councillor and the position of deputy mayor was left vacant after the meeting.
Cr Wy Kanak was also removed from a number of council committees, including the multicultural advisory committee.
‘Significant distress and disappointment’
At the extraordinary meeting on Thursday night, members of a packed public gallery held signs showing the faces of people kidnapped by Hamas.
About 16 per cent of the 68,000 people in Waverley Council’s local government area identified Judaism as their religion in the last census.
A Change.org petition started after last week’s meeting gathered 2,600 signatures calling for Mr Fabiano to be sacked as deputy mayor.
The petition, started by lawyer and former Zionist Council of NSW director Daniel Rod, said Mr Fabiano’s stance had caused distress in the Jewish community.
“Equivocating the actions of Hamas with those of Israel, especially during such a sensitive time, is unacceptable and shows a lack of understanding and empathy towards his constituents,” the petition said.
‘It shouldn’t lead to any oppressive conduct’
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (CCL) said it was concerned that the councillors’ “non-controversial” statements had led to the meeting calling for their removal from the deputy mayor and committee roles.
“Where there is an opinion being expressed that the majority may not agree with, that is not controversial, that is, ‘Please respect international law’ — that should be encouraged,” CCL president Lydia Shelly said.
“It certainly shouldn’t lead to any oppressive conduct where someone loses their position.
“We cannot be encouraging any processes that lead to the squashing of alternative views and … silencing dissent.”
Get local news, stories, community events, recipes and more each week.
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-10-27/waverley-council-sacks-deputy-mayor-over-palestine-amendment/103031094 Waverley Council sacks deputy mayor who backed move to condemn Israel’s bombing of Gaza