Balanced debate, respect for an opposing opinion and the right to agree to disagree are essential in a democracy if people are going to move forward together. Tweed Mayor Katie Milne (Green) has said she found the bullying that has taken place during the recent debate over the site of the new Tweed Valley Hospital ’shocking’. She is now ‘calling on all local politicians, candidates, fellow Councillors, the community and the media to help stop the bullying’.
‘The Tweed hospital and the state election saw online bullying in our politics rise to an all-time high.
‘The intensity of the vitriol has been truly shocking,’ she said.
‘As politicians we can set an example by ending negative political campaigning. Negative campaigning sends a terrible message to the community that our leaders endorse bad-mouthing others. It’s so ugly to see it in our media and plastered all around our streets on posters. Bullying is a sickness and is not something we should ever inadvertently condone.’
Ms Milne draws a parallel between this type of behaviour and the recent Christchurch shootings.
‘The tragedy of the Christchurch shootings and the messages of peace and love that are flowing in the aftermath are a powerful lesson to us all,’ she said.
‘We all struggle with anger but those who go overboard really need to consider getting help. There are free anger management courses available in the area.
‘We are so privileged to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world and our love for this place has always been what unites us. Community cohesion is such a precious and valuable treasure but it needs to be nurtured. We must not let our passions or our differences ruin our sense of community.
‘Let’s all make a supreme effort to support each other in the face of bullying even, and especially, if it comes from those on our own side of the debate.’