IT would have far better if attendants at yesterday’s rally against an Islamic Cemetery had stuck to the issues.
The Post understands that speakers before the protest were urged to address planning matters rather than touch on religious divisions.
But as one woman stated, it was ‘the elephant in the room.’
Once outed, a trail of speakers followed, fearing violent repercussions from having the cemetery in Marulan’s backyard.
For legal and religious vilification reasons, we will not repeat the comments.
It was enough to disgust one observer, Ryan Grey, who labelled it as “bigoted and small minded.”
It was disconcerting to say the least. Marulan Action Group chairman Peter Callaghan was at pains before the meeting to point out that opponents were not racist or against Islam.
Asked whether signs such as ‘non-halal sausage’ sizzle posted around the park contradicted this claim, Mr Callaghan said members were free to express their view and he was not a censor. He later applauded speakers for doing away with “political correctness.”
The undercurrent was not helpful. Indeed, the group has many valid objections to the cemetery. They are right to question impact on groundwater, traffic, flora and fauna, whether the plan is in the public interest and perceived anomalies in the development application.
They have taken a studied interest in key planning issues.
Agencies too have raised concerns and called for more information from the Al Mabarrat Benevolent Society. The council been trying to extract this for some time and has put a host of questions to the proponent on the community’s behalf.
One of these was whether an aged care facility marked on the plans was part of the application. The proponent says it is not, but it’s easy to see why confusion arises.
The Society also says it will be a 3500 plot cemetery. Yet planning consultant Richard Smyth said on Friday it could be up to 10,000 plots.
The community and the council need more certainty.
It’s only fair that one year after its lodgement, the Council will impose timelines on the application. Mr Smyth says a modified DA will be lodged next month.
The proposal’s next public airing will be at Council’s July 1 meeting where councillors will be updated. Members of the community and the proponent will also be asked to speak in open forum.
A decision will be some months off but when made, it will be on planning grounds only.
It’s an important point for the community remember. Engendering fear will not help the case.