AAP FactCheck

Restoring confidence in public statements by independently testing and verifying the facts

Has the United Nations declared Bendigo the model for all regional cities in Australia?

By James Lane and Louise Evans

The Statement

“Delegates from the UN who visited Bendigo have declared in the media that Bendigo is to become the model for all regional cities in Australia under their dictate.”

Fraser Anning's Conservative National Party candidate for Bendigo Julie Hoskin. May 7, 2019.

The Analysis

Julie Hoskin is the candidate for Fraser Anning's Conservative National Party in the central Victorian seat of Bendigo. Ms Hoskin stated her party’s policies were to “serve to protect Australia from foreign interference emanating primarily from the UN, whose agendas do not serve the interests or safety of our nation”.

Ms Hoskin claimed UN delegates visited Bendigo and declared the city was to become the model for all regional cities in Australia “under their dictate”. “Without public knowledge or consent, this agenda is being implemented by each level of government in our region,” she said. [1]

AAP FactCheck examined Ms Hoskin’s claim that UN delegates visited Bendigo and declared it was to become the model for all regional cities in Australia.

The seat of Bendigo extends from central Victoria to the north-west of Melbourne and includes Heathcote, Harcourt, Castlemaine and Kyneton. Labor holds the seat by a margin of 3.87 per cent. [2]

Bendigo became a national flashpoint for the far right between 2014 and 2016 when a proposal to build a mosque in the former goldfield town was used as a rallying cry for extremist groups across Australia, attracting counter-protests from anti-fascist groups. [3]

In 2016, Ms Hoskin, a former Bendigo councillor, led an unsuccessful High Court challenge against building the city’s first mosque. She was refused leave to appeal and later went bankrupt, unable to pay the costs of the case. [4]

For the 2019 federal election Ms Hoskin ticked the "yes" box on a form on the Australian Electoral Commission website declaring she was an undischarged bankrupt, which disqualifies her from being an MP under the constitution.

However, Ms Hoskin also stated on the AEC form she was appealing her bankruptcy. The AEC said Ms Hoskin's nomination will stand as it does not have the power to determine candidates' eligibility under the constitution. [4] [5]

AAP FactCheck asked Fraser Anning's Conservative National Party for the source of Ms Hoskin’s claim but received no reply.

In 2016 Bendigo received a visit from 30 members of the Australian Chapter of the Eastern Regional Organisation for Planning and Human Settlements (EAROPH) - a UN-accredited non-government organisation promoting quality of life and sustainability. [6] [7]

EAROPH president Jane Stanley told the Bendigo Advertiser: “We're interested in what is involved in building a regional economy that's not connected to a big city metropolis. We're going to look at Harcourt and Castlemaine and Bendigo as the three levels of hierarchy and we'll be looking at what the strengths of each economy are and how they can work together to build a regional economy.” [6]

The EAROPH study group presented its case study to the 2016 UN Habitat III Conference in Ecuador, a forum which examines how cities, towns and villages are planned and managed. The Australian arm of EAROPH used the Bendigo case study as a basis to recommend strategies on issues such as to address housing, urban design, cultural development and economic growth. [8]

Ms Hoskin is not the only Bendigo candidate claiming the town is being influenced by the UN. The One Nation Bendigo candidate Vaughan Williams makes reference to the UN on his website and the party’s how-to-vote card. “This land (Australia) was made great by its farmers, then manufacturing, innovation and smart business, which now seem to be heading down a road controlled by a non-elected United Nations and their global policies,” Mr Williams states. [9]

AAP FactCheck found no evidence to support Ms Hoskin’s claim. While the Australian chapter of a UN-accredited non-governmental body visited Bendigo and the city was included in EAROPH’s case study on regional economies, there is no evidence to support her claim Bendigo is to become “the model for all regional cities in Australia” under a UN "dictate". Nor was this occurring “without public knowledge or consent, this agenda is being implemented by each level of government in our region”.

The Verdict

  • False - The checkable claims are all false.

The References

1. ‘Bendigo federal election 2019: Candidates write on policies, stances’. Bendigo Advertiser. May 7, 2019: https://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/6103186/in-their-own-words-where-your-candidates-for-bendigo-stand-on-issues/?cs=14355

2. ‘Australia Votes. Bendigo’. ABC: https://www.abc.net.au/news/elections/federal/2019/guide/bend/

3. ‘Bendigo set for far-right electoral showdown’, by Noel Towell and Max Koslowski. The Sydney Morning Herald. April 25, 2019: https://www.smh.com.au/federal-election-2019/bendigo-set-for-far-right-electoral-showdown-20190424-p51gyh.html

4. ‘Fraser Anning's Victorian candidate Julie Hoskin bankrupt, ineligible’, by Bianca Hall. SMH. April 25, 2019: https://www.smh.com.au/federal-election-2019/fraser-anning-s-victorian-candidate-julie-hoskin-bankrupt-ineligible-20190425-p51h3m.html

5. ‘Anning candidate admits to bankruptcy’. SBS/AAP. April 26, 2019: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/anning-candidate-admits-to-bankruptcy

6. ‘UN casts eyes on Bendigo for global planning conference’, by Joseph Hinchliffe. Bendigo Advertiser. March 5, 2016: https://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/3770421/un-eyes-on-bendigo/

7. ‘Historical Background’. EAROPH: http://www.earoph.org/historical-background.php

8. ‘Bendigo And The New Urban Agenda. ‘How to implement sustainable development goals- Case studies from Bendigo’. EAROPH Australia: https://www.earophaustralia.com/bendigo-and-the-new-urban-agenda---march-2016.html

9. ‘Vaughan Williams. How To Vote. Bendigo’. Pauline Hanson’s One Nation: https://www.onenation.org.au/our-team/vaughan-williams/

  • First published May 9, 2019 17:58 AEST