'Divisive and hurtful'; Elder, mayor call for apology

ABORIGINAL elders are calling for councillor James Hansen to meet with them over his "divisive and hurtful" commentary on the first Indigenous woman elected to Queensland Parliament.

It comes after Cr Hansen made reference to State Environment Minister Leanne Enoch's Indigenous heritage on social media.

Uncle Gregory Eaton, who runs the Maryborough Aboriginal Corporation for Housing and Cultural Development, said as an Indigenous role model, Ms Enoch's work in parliament was "closely observed and respected" by the Fraser Coast's Indigenous community.


Gayle Minniecon and Greg Eaton at  the free concert at the Maryborough Showgrounds.
Photo: Robyne Cuerel / Fraser Coast Chronicle
Gayle Minniecon and Greg Eaton at the free concert at the Maryborough Showgrounds. Photo: Robyne Cuerel / Fraser Coast Chronicle Robyne Cuerel

"People should be assessed by their deeds, not by the colour of their skin," Mr Eaton said.

"Councillor Hansen claims he intended no malice and that his comments have been taken the wrong way.

"I invite him to meet with members of the Fraser Coast Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community so that he can explain exactly what he did mean in his comments, with a view to reconciliation."

Maryborough Aboriginal Corporation has contacted the council to seek a meeting with Cr Hansen.

Ms Enoch called on Cr Hansen to resign over the racial row but he has refused.

The comments, which have since been deleted, divided opinion on social media.

Fraser Coast mayor George Seymour however was clear in assessment, calling on his colleague and former One Nation candidate to "follow his conscience" and apologise.


Councillor controversy - Mayor George Seymour addressing the media.
CONTROVERSY: Mayor George Seymour addressing the media yesterday over Cr Hansen's comments on social media. Cody Fox

"The comments are clearly inappropriate and fall well below the standard we expect of our employees and councillors," Cr Seymour said.

"The Fraser Coast is an inclusive, welcoming and respectful place and these comments don't reflect those values.

"The standard you walk by is the standard you accept and this this type of behaviour is unacceptable and I won't just walk past this."

Cr Seymour did not comment on whether a complaint regarding Cr Hansen's conduct had been lodged.

Asked whether political allegiances impacted his decision to call out his conservative colleague, Cr Seymour said it was not a political matter.

"I think we try and tell children here that you treat people with respect, you don't bully them, comment on their race or disability or try to denigrate people," he said.

"For people to say this is a political issue I think really misses the point.

"I'm embarrassed we have to be talking about this right now, this behaviour doesn't belong in the schoolyard, doesn't belong in the community and doesn't belong in our council."

Fraser Coast Regional Council - Cr. James Hansen.
Fraser Coast Regional Council - Cr. James Hansen. Alistair Brightman

Cr Hansen made the following statement to the Chronicle:

IN HINDSIGHT it was a dumb question phrased poorly, but there was absolutely no malice or bad intent, as soon as I saw people were taking it the wrong way I pulled it down.

I certainly didn't mean to offend anyone and if I did, I apologise for that.

I would hate to think that's a hanging offence by phrasing something poorly.

As for the State Member, I don't see any reason he would interfere, especially when I had no intention of insulting anyone.