A Melton man has accused the city’s mayor of going into hiding when anti-Islam and anti-racism groups clashed violently in the town centre last month.
Nathan Miles, former president of the Cambridge, Coburn, Watts Residents Association, said mayor Kathy Majdlik should have defended the town and its people in the wake of the violence, which led to seven arrests.
“Even with all the police and media presence, no one from the council came out and defended the community,” Mr Miles said. “Honestly, it was like they went into hiding and it was disgraceful.”
Star Weekly contacted Cr Majdlik for comment the day after the clashes.
“Yesterday’s events were not reflective of our community’s values; we are proud to be a diverse and inclusive city,” she said.
“The majority of people who attended came from other areas and, unfortunately, chose Melton as the latest backdrop for their rallies.
“Council supports the rights of people to express their views through freedom of speech but that right imposes upon them the need to abstain from violence.”
Mr Miles said Cr Majdlik’s response to the violence was not strong enough.
He compared Melton council and councillors to those in Bendigo, who were vocal in defending their community when right-wing and left-wing protesters descended on the town.
“Councillors came out condemning [the violence] and saying this isn’t right,” Mr Miles said. “Melton councillors should have been out there saying [division] isn’t what our community supports, but the statement by Cr Majdlik wasn’t even strong enough.
“It almost appeared the council had abandoned the community.”
Cr Lara Carli told Star Weekly it was unfortunate Melton residents were “subject to the degree of anger and violence witnessed in our streets”.
“The events we witnessed have no place in our peaceful and vibrant community,” she said.
Cr Bob Turner said: “I don’t condemn the event, only the people who got out of hand. Everyone is entitled to a peaceful protest.”