Dickson’s defection a 'surprise' for colleagues
COLLEAGUES have been caught by surprise by Councillor Christian Dickson's alignment with the group Sunshine Coast Safe Communities, which plans to back at least four candidates at next year's local government elections.
Cr Dickson has resigned from the LNP - the party his father represents in the state seat of Buderim - and while not a member of Safe Communities, describes himself as "part of the furniture" of the group opposed to mosques, which it sees as spreading the "Islamisation" of communities.
Mr Dickson senior did not answer the Daily's calls yesterday.
Cr Chris Thompson, who faces a challenge from an as-yet-unnamed Sunshine Coast Safe Communities candidate, said he had a very strong personal relationship with Cr Dickson but had been surprised by his decision. The Division Four councillor has a Muslim sister-in-law from the Indonesian island of Lombok and said despite him and wife Jane's atypical Anglo Saxon appearance, they embraced a family of enormous cultural diversity.
Cr Thompson said his Aunty Mary was married to an indigenous Australian and he had a group of Aboriginal cousins with whom he was very close and in regular contact.
"The globe's inter-related now,'' he said, adding that one of his sisters had married a Zimbabwean, where a group of his nephews and nieces were being raised.
Cr Thompson said the Sunshine Coast was a welcoming community and as long as everyone who settled here embraced its values, everyone would get along okay.
He said anyone who ran for office should be upfront about their allegiances.
"You need to say what you stand for and if you get elected, that's great,'' he said.
Cr Jason O'Pray, who also faced a challenge from a Sunshine Coast Safe Communities candidate, said he had spoken with Cr Dickson who had dismissed the issue as a storm in a teacup.
"I'm not concerned that any particular community group may run on one or two issues,'' Cr O'Pray said. "I'm certain the community is far smarter than that and will look for a broad, knowledgeable approach to an array of issues of importance to the Coast.
"I feel I've done the very best I can for the past three-and-a-half years, I love the job and will do all I can for the region. I welcome people running (for council). The community never gets it wrong."
Mayor Mark Jamieson said the Sunshine Coast Social Strategy stated that "in all of our communities, people are included, treated with respect and opportunities are available to all".
He said plans by the Buddies Refugee Support Group to seek the council's support in declaring the Sunshine Coast a "refugee welcome zone" would be worked through with council officers to research and obtain the necessary information to inform any decision which the council may take.