The Beagle Editor
There are many in the shire who are dissatisfied with the performance of the Shire’s currently elected Councillors. Groups are now being established to field candidates for the Council election in September 2020. The primary drive is to oust the sitting councillors who many feel have been all but useless having given all of their powers under delegation to Council staff that renders them all but rubber stamps to do the staffs bidding. Look at the current situation with the Batemans Bay pool fiasco. The councillors have had little if any say other than to approve whatever recommendations are put before them. "Councillors, let's get rid of the 50m pool and put in a pool half the size for an expanding population. We have done the sums and consulted so just sign here with your rubber stamp". Around the Shire people are becoming sick and tired of this lot. The Rural LEP has turned into a farce. What have they done? The Mayor will tell you we have gained $500m in grants riding on the shirttails of Andrew Constance, Member for Bega but all of that is down to Constance. $150m for a hospital, $45m for Dignams Creek, $300m for new bridges and a $25m gift for the new pool that has turned into a public embarrassment as it all starts to unravel. Like those currently in council most of those considering being a candidate for the 2020 council election have little understanding of how the council actually operates. They seem to believe if they are elected the induction process will provide them with all they need to know about elected life and properly representing residents and voters.
What they need to know is the induction process is a tool used to convince those elected to public life that they are bound by a process designed to support Government Intended Outcomes not community required outcomes. The next thing they learn is that the Council staff are the experts and that the new councillors have to respect the professionality and opinion of staff because to not do so would be to openly challenge staff. Very few councillors have the imputus to research beyond what they are briefed by Council staff and they are told that any alternate view offered by the community or even other government agencies is not to be considered as those "people" are simply wrong and obviously don't know what they are talking about. Councillors are soon inducted into an Us vs Them mentality that is bound by secrets and told who to trust and who not to from "The Usual Suspects" to Business Chambers "intent on challenging council decisions and actions". The local Government Act in many instances is open to interpretations. Knowing right from wrong and being able to gauge community expectations is what’s important in elected life. Community expectations require effort to be able to provide out comes though. Those who get elected in September 2020 as representatives of the community, Councillors and Mayor, will have bugger all influence in anything of community value and expectations in the first term unless they have the support of a majority of the others elected. But the already endorsed budget, delivery and management plans and perhaps even the 5 year plan endorsed a few months prior to the election will control the whole show.
Budgets, Management and Delivery plans don’t change because of elections and new faces in the Council Chambers after elections .
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