Opposing A Mosque Because it ‘Threatens the Viewscape’

The ACT Government will refer a pamphlet opposing the construction of a mosque in Gungahlin to the Human Rights Commission for investigation amid concerns the flyer was racially motivated.

The flyer was distributed to Gungahlin residents this week, urging them to oppose the development on Valley Avenue because of its ‘‘social impact’’ and concerns about traffic and noise, ‘‘public interest’’ and size.

The authors of the flyer identify themselves as the Concerned Citizens of Canberra and ask recipients of the flyer to attend a private, closed door meeting on Sunday about the development. The pamphlet does not disclose the address of the meeting and says it will only be provided to residents who register by email to attend.

‘‘The ACT Government, with apparently no social impact assessment, has agreed to the establishment of a mosque with a capacity of 500, to be erected at 140 The Valley Avenue Gungahlin,’’ the flyer says. ‘‘This 500 capacity mosque will dominate the viewscape and will impact on you and all other residents of Gungahlin.’’

The densely over-populated, traffic-congested proposed location for this viewscape-blocking place of worship. (See ‘A’)

The pamphlet continues by saying ‘‘honesty and transparency in communicating with others whom your actions may affect is the accepted way that Australian neighbours treat each other.’’
‘‘This developer and its client, appears to have made little effort towards this. ‘‘Therefore, it is doubtful that they will be a good neighbour to the Gungahlin community.’’
In a multi-party post budget estimates hearing this morning, Multicultural Affairs Minister Joy Burch said she was disappointed Gungahlin’s Muslim community had ‘‘yet again been ostracised’’.
‘‘We have an ACT ministerial Muslim Advisory Council that I talk with regularly about matters that affect them and sadly that group is continuing to be in existence because, unfortunately, of things such as this,’’ she said.
‘‘If my memory serves me right, when I went out to celebrate the claiming of the block so to speak in Gungahlin, it is within a stone’s throw of a church. ‘‘I do not recall the same sentiment around traffic, social impact, traffic noise, public interest, bulk, scale and height, which seem to be the concerns applied to that.’’
Ms Burch said she wanted the matter investigated. ‘‘To have a location and time for this to only be provided for those who register is not the way that Canberra operates and I am more than happy to refer this to the HRC for investigation,’’ she said.

Lisa Cox | The Canberra Times | June 29, 2012

Email: ConcernedCitizensofCanberra@gmail.com