ALBURY mayor Kevin Mack has been accused of disrespect by sharing a meme featuring rolled eyeballs at the mention of January 26 being called Invasion Day.
His deputy Amanda Cohn and Albury Aboriginal resident Kevin Whyman were appalled by the image which Cr Mack shared on his personal Facebook page on Thursday morning.
First posted by former Labor Party leader Mark Latham the image has US actor Robert Downey Jr rolling his eyeballs and the caption “When someone tells you January 26 is Invasion Day”.
Cr Cohn blasted Cr Mack in a Facebook response.
“‘Getting over’ invasion day is like asking someone to ‘get over’ Anzac Day,” she wrote.
“Wiradjuri elders here in Albury have told me that they find celebrations on the 26th deeply hurtful.
“You may personally disagree with them but it’s your job to listen – eye-rolling is not a respectful response to that from the mayor.”
Cr Mack declined to speak to The Border Mail about the image, but responded to Cr Cohn by saying he was not Downey and it was a “meme”.
However he removed the post on Thursday afternoon after The Border Mail’s inquiries.
Mr Whyman, a Paakantji man who has lived on-and-off in Albury for 40 years, was stunned when a friend sent him the post by Cr Mack.
“I was a little bit disgusted when I saw it,” Mr Whyman said.
“Albury-Wodonga has a very large Aboriginal community and if he’s going to be posting stuff like that on Facebook it shows how much respect he’s got for Aboriginal people.
“I thought ‘you’re a politician mate you shouldn’t be doing that sort of stuff’.
“I think he’s got to explain why he put it up there, it’s ridiculous.”
Mr Whyman said Cr Mack “needs to respect” the reasons for not celebrating Australia Day and Cr Cohn was “absolutely right” in her comparison to Anzac Day.
“We can remember a world war and our diggers who went and fought in it but we can’t remember the Aboriginal people that were killed and murdered and treated like savages when the First Fleet came over in 1788,” he said.
“Why can’t we stand and remember the Aboriginal men, women and children, who died for nothing because of greed, on Australia Day, instead they celebrate because they say ‘we killed them and got what we wanted’.”