ABORTION rights activists are “child murderers”, “Leftards” seek the “homosexualisation” and “muslimisation” of Australia, and the country could be headed for a civil war in which “Aussie protectionists” fight to save us from “invasion, cultural deletion and political correctness”.
Welcome to the world according to Lake Macquarie Councillor John Gilbert, one of eight new representatives on the 13-person council announced on Monday.
Cr Gilbert, a real estate agent from Swansea Heads, is one of three councillors elected from the Lake Mac Independents group, a collection of candidates with ties to Fred Nile’s Christian Democratic Party.
A former member of both the CDP and the Labor Party, Cr Gilbert’s personal biography describes him as a “passionate” and life-long resident whose policy interests include youth unemployment and affordable housing.
But what it doesn’t list are his strong conservative credentials, including his anti-abortion views and his candidature for the CDP in the seat of Orange in 2015.
In fact the Newcastle Herald can reveal that in a series of Facebook posts made on his personal page in 2015 and since deleted, Cr Gilbert has expressed strong views on everything from ABC journalists – who he describes as “disgusting dogs” – to Mike Baird, who he says “encourages the Islamisation of NSW to be rapidly increased”.
In May 2015 Cr Gilbert posted a photo of a child with the caption “babies don’t choose to die” and the “Stand4Life” hashtag, an anti-abortion slogan used by conservative figures in the United States like Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee.
In a comment on the post, he likened Labor MPs like Tanya Plibersek and “Greenys” to “child murderers”.
In another in August last year he said that Labor, the Greens and “general Leftards” wanted the “muslimisation of Australia” and the “homosexualisation of Australia”.
“But Muzzies want to kill gays,” he wrote. “So what’s the answer? Any Leftards able to clarify please.”
In October last year he wondered whether Australia was “heading to civil war on home turf” between “the Aussie protectionists” and the “Leftards”.
“Maybe that is how things will end up in order to protect us from further invasion, cultural deletion and political correctness,” he wrote.
“I hope it can be averted.”
While the comments may come as a surprise to some of his supporters, Cr Gilbert said he did not regret most of the posts and rejected the suggestion he should have disclosed his conservative views before the election.
“Because I think everyone is entitled to have an opinion [and] I certainly don’t intend to shut down free speech,” he said.
“Local government policy should relate to things that come under the umbrella of local government … I think during the election people made decisions based on policies [that] come under the umbrella of local government.”
He said that the majority of the posts had been made “quite some time ago” and that he had deleted most of them.
“I am not advocating civil war or civil unrest,” he said.
But Charlestown Labor MP Jodie Harrison, who recently ended her term as Lake Macquarie Mayor, said it was a “diverse area” and it was “certainly likely” that Cr Gilbert would come up against issues that would relate to his personal convictions.
“Certainly there might be applications for grants, for example, that come from community groups from a different race or religion, that often happens,” she said.
“I really hope that he focuses on local government issues and doesn’t use Lake Macquarie and its very good residents as a grandstand for far-right views that the majority of the residents don’t share.”
Asked if he would be able to vote for issues that may conflict with his personal views, for example the mosque development in Buchanan approved by Cessnock Council this year, he said he would “provided it met development guidelines”.
“Any opinion I have outside of local government is not going to enter into local government policies I take part in,” he said.
“If a DA comes up obviously there's demand for it [and] it’s a matter of us making sure it fits within guidelines [it’s] nothing to do with any other beliefs.
“A mosque doesn’t effect the way the community is run, the introduction of Sharia Law would, but a mosque wouldn't impact that.”
Liberal Party Councillor Jason Pauling said while he didn’t personally support Cr Gilbert’s views, “I do lean towards freedom of expression and appropriate democratic debate”.
“Council is a broad representation of views [and] backgrounds and I remain confident that all councillors will engage in energetic debate based on the best outcomes for the city as a whole,” he said.
“Value sets will be challenged for all councillors and no doubt the odd barb will be exchanged.”
Asked whether he thought councillors should disclose views on issues outside of council politics he said an advantage of political parties “is the very fact that you know the general value set of the individuals concerned”.
The new Lake Macquarie Council includes six councillors from Labor, three from the Liberal Party, three from the Lake Mac Independents and one from the Lake Alliance.