Hawkesdale schoolchildren are keen to persuade Warrnambool’s mayor Cr Michael Neoh to change his mind and support their push for a world free of nuclear weapons.
Unlike Moyne and Glenelg shire councils which backed the ‘Mayors for Peace’ initiative promoted by Hawkesdale P-12 College classes, Cr Neoh has refused to sign the symbolic agreement saying it was not for local government to make a decision on. So far the issue has got no further than Cr Neoh’s office.
He said yesterday he received a request to attend a nuclear disarmament forum in May at Hawkesdale, but was unable to attend because of prior engagements.
“It hasn’t been formally put to our council, but I’d be happy for our councillors to convey their personal beliefs and positions on this issue if there was a request for us to discuss it,” he said.
“This issue is like abortion, religion and medical ethics where individual councillors have individual views.
“I don’t see how councillors can impose their personal views to make a policy position.
“It’s a state and federal issue. You need to look at all levels of responsibility.”
Corangamite, Southern Grampians and Colac Otway shires will discuss the request before their mayors make a commitment.
Project leader at the college, Marg Murnane, said she was disappointed at not gaining support from Cr Neoh, but would send a formal request hoping it would be discussed by the full council.
“Mayors for Peace is a worldwide initiative, a symbolic statement,” she said.
“I’ve been working with grades five and six classes for three years on the topic of nuclear arms abolition. Many of them had not even heard about Hiroshima.
“We’ve also written to US President Obama and asked if he would meet us if he comes to Australia. It’s a topic I’m keen for the wider community to debate.”
Ms Murnane is on a state steering committee hoping to have nuclear arms abolition as part of general school curriculum.