Council supports Gaza cease fire

A recent protest in Brimbank. (Matt Hrkac)

Gerald Lynch

Brimbank council has thrown its support behind Palestinian civilians with a historic motion calling for an immediate ceasefire in hostilities between Israel and Palestine.

At a February 20 council meeting, Brimbank councillors called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, and an end to the siege in Gaza, after receiving a petition signed by 3408 people.

Councillor Virginia Tachos explained why local government councillors were voting on an issue that was playing out in the Middle East.

“Many have asked me, ‘why bring this into the local council chamber, it’s a complex international conflict, it’s not relevant to your role’,” she said.

“It is relevant when my constituents who voted for their voices to be represented in the chamber express complete despair and deep unfathomable pain for the immense loss of life, the displacement and the reality that their families and loved ones face daily when they witness the images of war and horror.”

Further, the council affirmed its commitment to welcome and support those displaced by the conflict who may arrive in Brimbank.

Cr Tachos said a powerful letter she received from a local 16-year-old who attended a recent rally showed the importance of council supporting the petition and taking a strong stance on the conflict.

“The boy said, ‘everyone in this rally were peaceful, loving Brimbank residents that just want recognition and support from their local council… I know this is a very difficult issue to have a conversation about… many in our community would like to see councillors speak up and not be silent in this very difficult time’,” she said.

Councillor Maria Kerr abstained from voting. She said on social media that she didn’t vote as she doesn’t believe it is the jurisdiction of the local council to involve itself in complex international conflict.

“I believe local councils should focus on roads, rubbish & delivering local services,” she said.

The Brimbank Solidarity Group for Palestine celebrated Brimbank council’s motion, saying it is a testament to the diligent efforts of community advocates.

Group spokesperson Fatima Hoblos said this motion is the result of their collective commitment and unwavering dedication.

“We appreciate the Brimbank council’s responsiveness to our advocacy efforts…in standing up for justice and acknowledging that this war did not begin on October 7, 2023, but many decades ago.“