By LACHLAN MOORHEAD
CASEY Councillor Rosalie Crestani was again the MC at Sunday’s Reclaim Australia rally in Melton, which saw several people arrested among the 1000-odd rival demonstrators, including one man who punched a horse.
It’s the second time Cr Crestani has MC’d a Reclaim Australia event, having hosted the group’s previous rally in Melbourne’s CBD in July.
About 500 people from the self-described patriot group Reclaim Australia attended the Melton Civic Centre on Sunday afternoon, along with a similar number of rival anti-racism protesters.
Roughly 500 police officers also turned up to monitor the event, which turned ugly when several scuffles broke out between Reclaim members and activists from the group No Room for Racism.
Cr Crestani, who is also the deputy leader of Danny Nalliah’s Rise Up Australia Party (RUAP), said the fights occurred away from her and commended the police presence.
“The scuffles were occurring way over out of my view,” she said.
“It was very difficult to see … I always feel safe at rallies because they (police) are good at keeping us separate.
“I’ve never felt unsafe.”
Cr Crestani said she was a member of Reclaim Australia and not a member of the far-right group United Patriots Act, whose members also attended Sunday’s rally, but she said the UPF had a “pure motive”.
“We can all criticise different parts of their approach … but they have a pure motive,” she said.
“It doesn’t come across as pleasant to some, sometimes it’s a cold-hard truth.
“It’s something we have to be careful of but I meet many of these men and women and they have Australia’s best interests at heart.”
After Sunday’s rally, Hunters and Collectors front man Mark Seymour became the next musician to condemn the use of his music by Reclaim.
Mr Seymour labelled Reclaim Australia a “racist organisation” on Facebook after learning the group used his band’s classic track ‘Holy Grail’ at the Melton rally.
The National Anthem was sung at the Reclaim rally by member Jonathan Willy Eli, who ran as an RUAP candidate in the seat of Cranbourne in last year’s State Election.
Cr Crestani said Mr Eli’s son attends Cranbourne Carlisle Primary School, which made national headlines last month after Islamic students were given the choice of leaving the school’s Year 2-6 assembly before singing Advance Australia Fair.
Cranbourne Carlisle Primary School principal Cheryl Irving had previously said the decision was made in adherence to Muharram – the Islamic month of mourning associated with Shi’a Muslims in which they do not participate in “joyful events”.
South Eastern Metropolitan state Greens MP Nina Springle slammed Cr Crestani earlier this year after she was MC at the previous Reclaim rally.
Ms Springle said Cr Crestani should be “condemned” for participating in the rally, which later saw the two women meet for lunch to discuss the issue.
“Given the great contribution that generations of migrants have made to Australia, it is sad that Cr Crestani saw fit to participate in this way,” Ms Springle said at the time.
“Her participation must be condemned in the strongest terms.
“Fear and misunderstanding are the enemies of Australia’s peaceful, harmonious and multicultural way of life.”