Brimbank council is once again being called on to take action against a Sunshine West gym allegedly associated with Fascist activity.
An online petition launched by the Victorian Pride Lobby has garnered more than 900 signatures and counting, raising concerns about alleged on-going neo-Nazi activities at the gym, including reports of photographs involving members brandishing SS flags, far-right signs, and other Nazi-related symbols both inside the gym and on the adjacent footpath.
The petition calls on Brimbank council and the building owners to take decisive action against the far-right presence.
“This [petition] will help to put pressure on the council and building owners and let them know that the community is watching and expects them to act,” the petition reads.
Throughout the year, public question time during Brimbank council meetings have routinely included submissions from residents probing council on its actions, or lack thereof, regarding the gym.
Earlier in the year, council addressed concerns raised by residents about the alleged on-going neo-Nazi activities at the gym, including a ‘White Power Lifting Meet’ hosted by the European Australia Movement and the National Socialist Network on July 29.
During council’s August 22 meeting, then mayor Bruce Lancashire said council could not stop the gym operating.
“Whilst council has powers to ensure that land is being used in accordance with the Brimbank planning scheme and the local law, it does not have powers to control, monitor or regulate the patrons who attend the premises or to close the premises down due to the alleged extremist views of its patrons,” he said.
Victoria Police said officers attended Industrial Drive in Sunshine West on Saturday, July 29, in response to protest activity at the organised ‘White Power Lifting Meet’, with approximately 250 people in attendance. No arrests or incidents took place on the day.
Cr Lancashire said the July 29 event, during which police officers formed a barricade to keep protesters away from the doorstep of the gym, was “contradictory” to council’s values.
“In addition to working closely with Victoria Police, council is actively engaging in community outreach initiatives, educational programs and events that promote unity and understanding among our diverse population. We believe that fostering mutual respect and appreciation for different cultures is crucial in maintaining the inclusive fabric of our city,” he said.
Brimbank council city futures acting director Leanne Deans said council is continuing to investigate alleged breaches of the planning permit previously issued to operators of the gym.
“As it remains an active investigation, we are unable to provide additional information at this time aside from reiterating that council has no powers to evict them from the site,” she said.
“… We also pride ourselves on being a multicultural city that values its diversity and encourages all of our residents to live in harmony.
“We will continue to monitor this situation and respond accordingly, as legislation permits.”
Star Weekly contacted the gym for comment.