The Banyule Palestine Action Group has collected more than 600 signatures on a petition calling on Banyule City Council, in Melbourne’s north-east, to pass a motion supporting an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, in line with motions passed in other councils across Australia.

On 2 February, four Banyule Palestine Action Group members, including Imam Alaa of Elsedeaq Heidelberg Mosque and Lucas Moore of the Victorian Socialists, met with Banyule Council CEO Allison Beckwith and Mayor Tom Melican. After a brief discussion, these officials rejected the petition, claiming that the matter is “outside of the duties, functions and powers of the council”.

Yet in previous years, the council has endorsed support actions on a range of international issues, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. So their claim it is outside of their jurisdiction is obviously a sham.

The Banyule Palestine Action Group believes the council’s response is no more than a cop-out. Banyule is home to a large multicultural community that has taken a strong interest in the unfolding humanitarian disaster in Gaza. Elected councillors have a responsibility to listen to the concerns of citizens who submit a petition to the council following BCC’s own policies and procedures.

The council also has a moral duty to consider the feelings of the community, many of whom are grieving or have personal connections with the land and people of Gaza and at the moment feel ignored by their council representatives.

Banyule is also home to one of the many Australian companies contributing technology and expertise to the global weapons industry. Lovitt Technologies in Greensborough is part of the worldwide supply chain for F-35 Joint Strike Fighter components as well as parts for several other military aircraft.

“We are building a Palestine solidarity movement in Banyule to put pressure on the council and also to draw attention to the role Lovitt Technologies plays in supporting the Israeli military machine with Australian-made components”, Moore said, speaking to Red Flag outside the Heidelberg Mosque.

He and other BPAG members were leafleting the mosque with flyers promoting a 26 February protest outside the council offices.

“The imam gave a great speech at Friday’s lunchtime prayer service. He’s encouraging everyone at the mosque to join our rally. We handed out hundreds of flyers and got a great reception”, he said.

Banyule Palestine Action Group is calling on Banyule City Council to agree to table the “Banyule Council Palestine Solidarity with Palestine” petition at the next council meeting on 26 February. 

It also wants the council to pass a motion calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, in line with motions passed in other councils.

Join the BPAG rally

WHEN: 6pm Monday, 26 February

WHERE: Outside the council meeting, 275 Upper Heidelberg Road, Ivanhoe