A young woman running for the Town of Mosman Park has received support from WA’s local government minister, after she was targeted online for calling for more diversity in council.
Candidate Georgie Carey received encouragement to keep campaigning from David Templeman, following accusations of being anti-male and anti-white after her calls for more young candidates to reverse the “male, pale and stale” stereotype of councillors.
“I congratulate a young woman who’s prepared to put herself forward to be a councillor within her municipality and I encourage her to not be dissuaded by negative or abuse she might’ve received, particularly I understand on social media,” Mr Templeman said.
“I’m sure this young woman has the resilience and certainly the character she’s displayed to rise above that.”
Ms Carey shared an article about young candidates running for council from The West Australian newspaper on her campaign page and quoted comments from Mr Templeman about needing more young people in local government council.
The article referred to a 2016 University of Western Australia report into the make-up of councils that claimed councillors were typically male and white, which called them “male, pale and stale.”
“I wrote about that on my page saying how we need to increase the diversity in Mosman Park because of how many young people live there especially,” Ms Carey said.
“A third of the people living in Mosman Park are aged under the age of 30 and to have none of that represented on council is kind of crazy.”
“That was shared onto an alt-right meme page who has decided to, I suppose, target me as a person in my call for more diversity, of more representation of the larger range of people.”
She said received a range of abuse on her online personal and campaign accounts.
“There were messages to my private account, to my public campaign account, there was lots of comments on the page it was posted on, saying how awful I am and how I’m a radical and I want to represent just migrant people which is entirely untrue.”
“Just really, really awful personal things took out of context what I was saying.”
Ms Carey said the attack was personal.
“I think this entire attack, no-one’s had a look at any sort of policy platform that I advocate for,” Ms Carey said.
Town of East Fremantle Deputy Mayor Michael McPhail said Ms Carey’s experience was not uncommon, with candidates and councillors across local governments being targeted and bullied.
“It’s incredibly concerning but it’s also a trend I’ve noticed become quite prominent in this year’s elections which I think is a real concern to all of us in Perth,” he said.
“It’s going to scare the sort of people away that we want to see represent local government.”
He said abuse had become more personal and not focused on candidate’s policies.
“It’s aiming to discredit and slander individuals and it’s not the sort of environment that’s conducive to good policy discussion,” Mr McPhail said.
“I think more importantly, each of us as citizens has a responsibility to call out behaviour that’s just not on.”
Mr Templeman said it was disappointing that candidates were being targeted online.
“It’s just very sad. You know quite often, it’s the anonymous people aren’t prepared to stand themselves who do what I think is ultimately a gutless thing,” he said.
He said he would continue to support Ms Carey.
“Georgie, I support you and I agree with you,” he said.
“Keep going because we need young women, young men, people with various backgrounds representing their community in local government.”