Dear Beagle Editor, It was with interest that we read how you dealt with the "fake news" that said "Eurobodalla Council has been judged the top council in Australia for customer service general enquiries in a quarterly national benchmarking report." Your comment at the bottom of the media release was very clear. "That statement is blatantly false unless set with a context. Eurobodalla Council has been judged as being placed first amongst a group of 60 councils as measured by one company. Did they measure all their client councils - we don"t know. Did they measure all the councils in Australia? NO. There are 537 local government councils throughout Australia. So, clearly, it is not true to state that our council has been "judged the top in Australia".
We thought your readers might be interested in some "fake news" south of the border. “fake news” …
It was only a year ago that Donald Trump introduced the world to the new manipulative concept of “fake news”.
Who would have thought that it would take less than a year before the bureaucrats at Bega Valley Shire Council (BVSC) would be engaged in the same self-serving practice, as they busied themselves convincing residents & ratepayers that “substance” really is just “appearance” pumped-up with bold “opinion”.
But there is a substantial difference between practicing “spin” & creating “fake news” & the Bega Valley Shire Residents & Ratepayers Association (BVSRRA) thinks that it is unacceptable for any organisation to engage in the latter behaviour.
So it was that council’s media release of April 13th, 2017 loudly & proudly informed the community that Cr McBain had been awarded the Governor General’s Medal “for her leadership skills & can-do personality aimed at accomplishing goals for the community”.
Like the rest of the community, the BVSRRA was initially delighted by the recognition afforded to Cr McBain however, delight turned to disappointment after the Governor General’s office confirmed that “there is no such award as the Governor-General's Medal for Leadership”.
The BVSRRA subsequently wrote to council’s General Manager, Leanne Barnes, on May 5th, making her aware of the above information & confirming that “… the BVSRRA believes that it is important that the public record is corrected & subject to your confirming the basis of our concerns, we would expect Council to take steps to do so, whilst apologising for any embarrassment that may have been occasioned to the Governor-General.
The BVSRRA also pointed out that it believed council’s Media Release had breached the requirements of Council’s Media Guidelines & Procedures 5.10.1 & called for a review of council’s media management activities.
Unsurprisingly, BVSC has simply ignored the BVSRRA’s request.
The BVSRRA believes that it is important to acknowledge that Cr McBain is a popular figure in our community & enjoys support as a councillor & as mayor, but “popularity” should not be mistaken for “leadership”, just as “activity” should not be mistaken for “achievement”.
The BVSRRA also believes that leaders who are held in high esteem invariably display common behaviours, such as courage, tenacity, patience, confidence, creativity, flexibility, conviction, consistency, humbleness but, above all, honesty & integrity.
Such leaders communicate effectively, lead by example, act responsibly & are accountable. They are role models & figures of respect & inspiration as a result of what they do for others. They act on principle & not on expediency.
The BVSRRA does not know who was responsible for misleading the community in this matter & while it regrets any embarrassment caused to Cr McBain as a result, it believes that the community is entitled to know the truth of the matter.
The BVSRRA is also disappointed that council did not take the opportunity of correcting the record itself & can only assume that it wrongly believed that the matter would not become public.
Nevertheless, of greatest concern for the community must be council’s dysfunctional leadership culture, the hallmarks of which are expediency & a lack of genuine accountability to the community it supposedly exists to serve.
Bega Valley Shire Residents & Ratepayers Association