Mandurah councillor Ahmed Zilani plans community hunger strike for more police

Ahmed Zilani says he wants to give a message to the state government that Mandurah needs attention. Photo: Supplied.
Ahmed Zilani says he wants to give a message to the state government that Mandurah needs attention. Photo: Supplied.

A mayoral challenger in regional Western Australia is planning a second hunger strike - and this time he is recruiting.

Mandurah councillor Ahmed Zilani went on a 12-hour hunger strike in 2019 to put pressure on the state government to build the Lakelands train station.

This time he wants more police to fight Mandurah's high crime rates.

He is hoping 100 residents will join him, three at a time fasting from food and drinks for six hours for a total eight-day strike in August.

But Mandurah MP David Templeman is calling the plan a "stunt" to gain attention ahead of the October 16 mayoral elections.

"I don't think hunger strikes are the mechanism to highlight issues we already know about and indeed that we are working for," Mr Templeman said.

"In my view any mayoral or council candidate should focus on the jurisdiction of what the council is responsible for."

The state government was recruiting 1000 new police officers for WA as per its state election promise.

"We have a massive recruiting effort going on... people may have seen the advertising campaigns seeking police officers," he said.

He said while it was the police commissioner's job to decide where those officers would be stationed, he would be requesting more police for Mandurah.

Mr Zilani said he decided to organise the strike after getting much attention over his Facebook post about police arresting a criminal that broke into his car outside the Mandurah council chambers in March.

"I have received many emails, text messages and comments from frustrated residents who have been victims of anti-social behaviour, drugs, vandalism and hooning," he said.

"As a mayoral candidate and a concerned citizen, safety is my number one priority. So, if elected...I would like to work closely with the Mandurah police in order to make this city as safe as it can be for everyone. Because, I know that these fine officers are doing as much as they can for the benefit of this city.

"We want our police to be proactive rather than reactive," Mr Zilani said. "We want them to be able to conduct regular police patrols in all areas and suburbs.

Ahmed Zilani during his 2019 strike.

Ahmed Zilani during his 2019 strike.

"Crime is and always has been a major problem in which the community has been very outspoken. Previously Mandurah residents through rallies and protests did all they could to try and convince the state government to allocate more officers to our city. But there have not been any significant changes as of yet."

He said the "symbolic hunger strike" was not to undermine or criticise but to show what the people of Mandurah wanted.

"The high crime rate is recognised in local and state media every week. We cannot deny its existence and keep our heads under the sand."

He said being a community issue, he wanted community participation.

Three people would fast from food and drink simultaneously for six hours in the rotunda on Mandurah's eastern foreshore. Music, lighting and heating would be provided.

"I want to give a message to the state government that Mandurah needs attention," he said. "That the people of Mandurah are seriously concerned about their safety."

A poll by the Mandurah Mail shows a 75 per cent preference for Mr Williams, a 14 per cent preference for Mr Zilani with 11 per cent of voters hoping for another candidate.

Meanwhile, Mr Templeman is urging people to report all crime saying police used that data not only to arrest criminals but also to allocate police resources.

He said as well as promising new officers, the government had provided extra protective resources to police including anti-stab vests and body cameras.

And Mandurah Police Station has just undergone a $2million upgrade including an internal reconfiguration to accommodate more officers. Works to the carpark and access were being finalised.


This story Mayoral hopeful calls out for people to join his hunger strike first appeared on Mandurah Mail.