Council clowns are a costly joke
Victorian councils criticised for social and political meddling
JOHN MASANAUSKAS and JESSE WRAY-MCCANN, Herald Sun
LOCAL councils are under fire for meddling in controversial issues like flying political flags, promoting indigenous treaties and raising century-old ethnic disputes.
Councillors have been told to stick to basics like collecting rubbish and fixing roads instead of focusing on social and political matters outside their jurisdictions.
MINISTER TELLS COUNCIL TO FLY RAINBOW FLAG
The City of Monash is divided over a bid by some councillors to discuss ways of recognising the Armenian genocide which occurred a century ago.
Monash Mayor Rebecca Paterson took the extraordinary step of issuing a statement accusing the councillors of stoking unnecessary controversy by pitting one ethnic group against another.
This matter may be appropriate to be debated in the Australian Parliament, but it is not appropriate for our council chamber,” she said.
However, one of the councillors, Josh Fergeus, said the debate “remains a live issue” for the council that will require detailed consultations with the community
YARRA’S VIETNAM FLAG STOUSH
City of Yarra councillors have voted to temporarily fly the so-called Co Vang flag, which is a Vietnamese community symbol linked to the South Vietnamese regimen which was defeated by the Communist forces in 1975.
State Vietnamese Community president Vivien Nguyen said the flag represented the identity and heritage of the community and its refugee background.
“We are proud of our heritage, we are proud of our identity and we want to show the broader community as a contribution to overall multiculturalism in our society,” she said.
But Evan Mulholland of free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs, said voters elect councillors to focus on fixing local roads and collecting their rubbish.
“Councillors have no jurisdiction to comment on international affairs, refugees, or marriage.
“They should do that in their own time as private citizens rather than spending our money,” he said.
Meanwhile, Moreland Council is tomorrow due to debate a motion by Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton to organise a “major public forum” to discuss a treaty with local Aborigines.
However, a council officer’s comments on the idea said the State Government was handling treaty negotiations with indigenous groups.
“At this stage it is uncertain what role local government has to negotiate such a treaty,” the officer said.
The officer said that depending on how large and formal the forum was it could cost up to $5000 including money spent on external speakers, catering, sound and lighting.
Among other issues, many councils fly pro-LGBTI community flags, put up ”welcome refugees” banners and spend ratepayers’ funds on providing aid to local governments in East Timor.