Under Siege: Kiama councillor and RSL member Dennis Seage has been criticised for his comments at the Anzac Day dawn service, however he says they were “taken completely out of proportion”. Picture: Sylvia Liber.A Kiama councillorand RSL member has been accused of “hijacking” the town’s Anzac Day dawn service, after he reportedlyspruiked an anti-merger message during the memorial.
Outraged residentstook to social media in the dozens on Monday morning, saying councillorDennis Seagehad “politicised” the solemn occasion.
Grace Taylor posted to the Mercury’s Facebook page to air her views, saying she appreciated the efforts to “keepKiama council local” but had been “completely disgustedthat the dawn service held this morning in Kiama was interrupted, on numerous occasions, with an announcement informing me of a vote taking place to keep the councils from merging”.
“I planned to attend an Anzacmemorial service this morning and pay respect but I attended a pep rally,” Ms Taylorsaid.
Similarly, Janne Bradley penned a letter toKiama council soon after the dawn service, saying she was “appalled that the speaker used this very special day as a political stage”.
On the Kiama Community Facebook page the issue generated so much debateadministrators decided to close comments on the topic by about 11am in an effort to ensure the“issue of amalgamation does not overtake the true spirit of the Anzaccelebration we share today”.
Among the posts, veteranMark Croxford said “today will go down in my history as a very sad day indeed”.
But Tim Allan called for calm, saying: “Without that bloke’s efforts there wouldn’t be a dawn service, it was an error in judgment but he is passionate man,one who wants the best for his community.”
Likewise, Craig Keller said Kiama residents were “lucky we live in a democracy where people are entitled and enabled to have a choice”.
“These rights and privileges are in part available to us because of the sacrifices our forebears have made,” he said.
And, on the “Kiama Remembers” page, Bob Collett said:“He fought for the right to our free speech and sounds like he is still fighting for it.”
Contacted by Fairfax Media,Cr Seage said only thathis comments had been“taken completely out of proportion” and believed there were “some certain untruths being said”.
“We videotaped the whole show… Other than that, I don’t wish to comment at this stage until I have a look at that videotape,” he said.
On May 7, Kiama council will hold a plebiscite on the NSW government’s proposal to amalgamate Kiama with Shoalhaven City Council.
A number of social media commentators said the Anzac Day “hijacking”may change their vote to a “yes” in the merger poll.
Originally published asOutrage over Kiama’sAnzac Day‘hijacking’ by Illawarra Mercury.