FRAYED tempers in public and barbs on social media have so upset a Mornington Peninsula Shire Councillor that she is calling on her critics to “back off”.
Cr Julie Morris said she has endured “12 months of snide comments” from Tyabb Airfield supporters voicing a “whirlwind of abuse” towards her and her family, both online and in public.
“I’m almost at the point where I don’t know if I can send my daughter to the local school anymore,” Cr Morris, a senior constable with Victoria Police, said.
“I feel I am at the point where we will have to move. I am sick of it.”
Cr Morris, who has led the council push to have relevant and consistent planning permits in place covering all the airfield’s operations, said: “They weren’t this rude until I had to make some tough decisions. Yet every one of my [decisions] was made with full council support.
“They should not target my family; they should keep it professional.”
Security issues arose at the council’s boisterous 17 February planning services committee meeting to discuss a planning scheme amendment in and around the airfield.
Cr Morris said that before the meeting she was advised to park her car in the street and not the council car park where it could be vandalised.
“One of the most upsetting things is that some people will only see the online trolling comments about me and my family and form a view even though they’re not factual,” she said.
“Not one person has picked up the phone and asked me why I have voted this way.
“My integrity is at stake here.”
Peninsula Aero Club president Jack Vevers said he “absolutely did not support online trolling”.
“My advice is to always remain respectful and courteous,” he said.
“It doesn’t do any good to our cause to act in that manner and I am opposed to that approach.
“I don’t know what that’s about, but it is wrong. We can always disagree, but we should always be respectful.”
Cr Morris said she had “always supported the airfield” and “wishes decisions about its permits can be resolved quickly” to help give the airfield the security of tenure to remain operating.
“I’m not here to be popular, but to help make the right decisions.”
Mornington Peninsula Shire mayor Cr Sam Hearn said it was “not fair for people needing to make complex decisions to have their families talked about online”.
“Ninety-nine per cent of the community want us to respect each other and pull together – especially at this particular time,” he said.