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Deputy mayor ‘uncomfortable’ with councillor’s China comments

The Deputy Lord Mayor says allegations of Chinese political interference made by Councillor Jackie Watts “sit uncomfortably” with him.

Cr Jackie Watts alleged at a meeting last night that she had received an alarming message from the Chinese Consulate ahead of a June 4 meeting, where she had planned to mark the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

The message dissuaded her from passing a motion remembering the massacre victims.

Professor Nick Bisley, Head of Humanities and Social Sciences and Professor of International Relations at La Trobe University, said such interference is not unheard of.

“It’s not entirely surprising,” he told 3AW’s Ross and John.

Press PLAY below to hear more on 3AW Breakfast.

Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Arron Wood, says no alarming message was received.

“There was no bullying from the Chinese consulate or anything of that sort,” he told Neil Mitchell.

Cr Arron Wood said the Chinese consulate “fully thought that the (Tiananmen Square) statement would go ahead.”

He told 3AW Mornings the decision not to go ahead with a statement to mark the massacre was a personal choice made by Cr Watts.

“There was a conversation between councillors which got quite emotional, there were tears, and then a decision was made not to proceed,” he said.

Cr Wood said allegations of political interference are “serious” and the inference will be investigated via internal council processes.

Press PLAY below to hear Cr Wood on 3AW Mornings.