Bendigo Mosque Project stirs whispers of racism and fear

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BENDIGO: MOSQUE  Do you agree?

Bendigo Mayor Peter Cox ….

As a matter of principle, it is entirely appropriate for a major regional city such as Bendigo, which welcomes all faiths and nationalities, to have a purpose-built mosque.”

“In doing so, Council acknowledges this matter has been challenging for some members of the community, but the decision has now been made and it is time for all parties to put their differences aside and move forward in a positive and respectful way,” he said.

Only 15 members of the public objected to the development on the grounds it would potentially create noise pollution and traffic congestion. Initially concerns had been also been raised about fears that sharia law would impact the community.

About 300 members of the far-right group United Patriots Front protested in Bendigo last week but were countered by a protest from No Room for Racism

The Council have put out a Fact Sheet to counter the arguments and makes for interesting reading …

FACT V FICTION

 

Claim Truth
At least 80 per cent of Bendigo residents reject the mosque development. There has been no official/credible polling or surveys undertaken of Greater Bendigo residents on this topic. Thirteen objectors appealed at VCAT.
The City of Greater Bendigo is planning 22,000 residential and State Government housing commission homes in preparation for mass migration of around 80,000 people. The claim makes reference to Haven Home Safe. Bendigo has welcomed migrants since the gold rush era.Greater Bendigo’s population is forecast to grow from 110,000 to 145,000 by 2031. Some of these people will be migrants, some will come from other parts of Australia and some will be born here. All will be welcome.There is no planning permit applications for a residential development of the scale mentioned here.

Haven Home, Safe (HHS) has advised it does not have the capacity or desire to build “thousands of homes for the purpose of mass migration”. Its focus is on looking after homeless and disadvantaged people.

HHS describes the claim as nothing more than a pathetic smear campaign.

“(HHS) strongly rejects any suggestion or innuendo that it is part of a campaign to enable mass migration and the building of thousands of homes …”

A residential (22,000 homes) and commercial development is currently underway behind the proposed mosque site. There is no suitable or available land around the mosque to accommodate a housing development on the scale claimed.The land around the mosque site is zoned either Industrial 1 or Low Density Residential and would require an amendment to the Greater Bendigo Planning Scheme, which would be costly, take several years and have no guarantee of meeting the requisites for residential development.Higher density residential development is not permitted in a Low Density Residential Zone (LDRZ).

There are no plans in the new Residential Development Strategy to increase residential densities in the area zoned Low Density Residential near the mosque site.

Most importantly, the East Bendigo Structure Plan, adopted by Council and which forms part of the planning scheme, discourages any intensification of housing development on this LDRZ land because it forms part of the racehorse precinct near the Bendigo Racecourse.

The proposed mosque is to eventually become the biggest mosque in the southern hemisphere and has the capacity to accommodate at least 2,000. The conditions on the planning permit limit the capacity to a maximum of 375 people. The development is modest in terms of other mosque buildings in Australia.
It is to be the first of many mosques across Bendigo. The City of Greater Bendigo has not received any planning permit applications or enquiries for other mosques in Greater Bendigo.
Cr James Williams has been approaching farmers in the region to involve them in Halal certification. Cr James Williams informed the Council meeting on Wednesday August 26, 2015 that he has not been approaching farmers about Halal certification.
Mayor Cr Peter Cox is involved in training programs for asylum seekers and refugees. Mayor Cr Peter Cox was previously involved in employment provider services through the not-for-profit Future Employment Opportunities. He no longer has a role with the organisation.
The extension to the Bendigo Airport is to facilitate religious pilgrimages to Bendigo. The extension to the Bendigo Airport is to facilitate economic development in the City and to ensure the airport can continue to operate as a base for airborne emergency services such as fire-fighting aircraft.
The Australian Islamic Mission has not only purchased 5.2 acres for the proposed mosque they have also purchased 12 acres of surrounding vacant land. The Australian Islamic Mission has not purchased 12 acres of surrounding vacant land.

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