Wyndham councillor Intaj Khan has made a public apology after breaching the council’s Code of Conduct in relation to comments he made online and in the media.
In September, the council suspended Cr Khan from any position in which he represented the city – including council meetings – for a period of four weeks.
The decision also required Cr Khan to apologise for his comments, which included a Facebook post which included the line: “I strongly oppose Wyndham City Council’s delay to frustrate Labor Government’s attempt to bring a Wyndham Indian cultural precinct to celebrate Indian culture.”
On Wednesday night, Cr Khan returned to the council chamber, where he said he regretted if anyone had found his wording “inappropriate”.
But mayor Henry Barlow twice interrupted Cr Khan’s apology speech, asking him to remain on topic.
The mayor first interjected when Cr Khan began speaking about how a Monash councillor, Geoff Lake, had posted a comment on Facebook about the matter.
Cr Khan said Cr Lake had described Wyndham council’s actions as “… possibly the most bizarre attack on a political comment we have seen in Australia’s history”.
The mayor interrupted Cr Khan again a short time later, when he said he had done “nothing wrong”.
Cr Khan completed his apology by saying that he supported good work in the community and freedom of speech.
Later, during the meeting’s public question time, the council received five submissions from residents about the proposed Indian Cultural Precinct.
One resident asked why the council was “so reluctant” to develop the precinct, which the state government has committed $500,000 of funding.
In response, the council’s city life director Jenny McMahon said: “There is no reluctance on council’s part.”
Ms McMahon said the council had been engaged in a “very, very thorough community consultation” about the proposed precinct.
She said a report into the precinct was being finalised and would hopefully be presented to the council before the end of the year.
Cr Barlow said anyone who suggested the council was “against the possibility” of an Indian precinct was not telling the truth.