Sydney councillor condemned after meeting excludes English speakers

Public outcry as key city council meeting on waste station proposal is held in Mandarin only.

Sydney councillor condemned after meeting excludes English speakers
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A Sydney councillor has been slammed as for holding an important public meeting in Mandarin and refusing to provide any translation for English speaking ratepayers.

The meeting was to discuss Cumberland City Council’s proposal for a new rubbish tip in Lidcombe.

Locals are upset that the proposed Organics Transfer Station is too close to homes and schools.

The Station will operate seven days a week, processing 80,000 tonnes of domestic and food waste every year.

When ratepayers arrived at a meeting organised by Councillor Kun Huang, many were shocked to realise it was being held only in Mandarin.

Non-Mandarin speakers sat in silence for about 20 minutes before a local man finally requested an English translation.

He was told one would not be provided.

Cumberland City Councillor Steve Christou, who attended the meeting, also spoke up on behalf of non-Mandarin speakers.

“We're here because we want the community united on this, not certain sections of the community where we are divided,” he said.

“The whole community needs to be united and informed.”

But he was told by organisers, “We did mention that this presentation is in Chinese.”

Councillor Christou told 2GB's Ben Fordham that his council colleague, who speaks Mandarin and English, had steadfastly refused to accommodate non-Mandarin speakers.

He said it was a classic case of “reverse racism”.

“Australians are very concerned about this type of behaviour," he said.

“They could have easily been catered for with an English translation.

“The gentleman asked nicely. There were a few residents that wanted a translation, why weren't they accommodated? That's the whole question here,” he said.

“There should have been a translation offered, but more importantly residents had given up their Sunday afternoon to discuss the issue of a local tip being forced upon their local area.

“Why wasn't that the sole focus of the meeting and why was a lawyer brought along to discuss a DA proposal that's very easy to explain to residents, the process and how to object to it.”

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  • By Avi Yemini

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