The Beagle Editor,
Another Piece of Democracy Chipped away from Eurobodalla Council Many years ago, I encouraged my daughter to learn debating and the idea was that a good argument, presenting facts and truth would always win out. Recent times have proved me wrong and that telling the truth and using facts to support an argument does not always lead to the right outcome. Fake news is here to stay! These days we tend to talk about alternative facts as if they are real. We see examples of this with Trump on Twitter. What is interesting is there are many who believe his lies. Closer to home we had to suffer through an election argued on lies. This was highlighted when Josh Frydenberg was being interviewed on Insiders by Barry Cassidy and was challenged by Cassidy about the lie that Labor would introduce death taxes. Cassidy asked several times but Frydenberg denied it was a lie. Cassidy struggled to deal with the reality that Frydenberg was continuing to perpetrate this blatant lie. So fake truth wins out. We have seen fake truth closer to home and this happened on the 11th of June at council meeting when seven out of nine councillors voting to cease live streaming Peoples’ Forum. Prior to this vote council had sought the views of the community on amendments to code of Meeting. These submissions were duly sent to council prior to the meeting where amendments were to be voted on. On the Wednesday prior to the meeting the General Manger of Eurobodalla Council sent out the relevant agenda and it was observed that almost all submissions were dismissed. My understanding is that thirteen submissions were sent to council and on the day of the meeting eight community members including myself, lined up to speak to their submissions. These submissions can be viewed and read on the Council website and some on the Beagle website. The Presentations were from Lei Parker, Peter Cormick, Jeff de Jager, Trish Hellier, Chris Kowel, Jim Bright, Donald Macdonald and Owen Cartledge It would be wise before passing judgement on these people, to view those submissions. When it came to debate the amendments both Councillor Innes and Councillor Nathan read out prepared statements which clearly spoke against web streaming. I gathered from that they had both come to the meeting having already made up their minds on which way they were voting.
VIDEO: Ordinary Meeting of Eurobodalla Council Date: June 11th 2019 Council debate on GMR 19/010 Code of Meeting Practice Under MOU with Eurobodalla Shire Council Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia licence. read more http://bit.ly/beagleCC So here is the question, why would others and I speak to our submissions if we thought we could not sway councillors with our arguments? I would think because we believe in due process and expect councillors to also believe in due process, to weigh our words before they consider how they should vote. How disappointing it is when we have to face the inevitability of being proved wrong. I had thought the idea of presenting submissions is part of the decision-making process in that submissions would be considered as part of determining which way councillors should vote. Instead, I am left with the reality that the reasons for this part of the process are no longer adhered to and that councillors are not paying attention to what is said by presenters. I have no wish to discuss what was spoken at meeting because it is available on the council website. I note one point that you need to observe is the lack of involvement amongst most of the councillors. They contributed little or nothing to the conversation. So, the next day councillor Innes gets on local radio and gives her reasons for the end of web casting emphasising legal reasons as being the prime reason. The second was some presenters speaking in a manner she did not like. To my knowledge there has never been a legal step taken against council, councillors or Forum presenter, that I know of in all the time that Forums have been webcast. Those interested need to go and listen to all that was said and listen for the alternate facts and no detail being given when referring to bad behaviour by presenters. To my mind Councillor Innes finds it easier to criticise all the presenters even when it may be only one misbehaving. Here is the thing, people in the Chamber are normally well behaved but it is difficult to restrain yourself when silly or outrageous commentary, such as the one made by Councillor Tait who accused all the presenters of being political, brought comments from the gallery. Really, this sort of behaviour is not unusual in any council chamber anywhere in Australia. You would expect that councillors, when they say something controversial or down-right stupid, would be likely to cop a comment from the gallery. So, can I suggest to councillors who have a problem with this behaviour suck it up and behave like grownups. In the meantime, could Councillor Innes stop gilding the lily with her complaints. One last alternative truth. Councillor Innes makes much comment about behaviour and says there is no way to take action against improper behaviour under code of conduct. Not true. There is in fact very little opportunity for members of the public to seriously misbehave but when they do there is action taken to constrain and, in some cases, expel presenters from future Forums. To suggest council, have no way to punish or control unruly presenters is completely untrue. Refer to the Code of Meeting Practice and you will find plenty of evidence to support the argument that council have fairly wide-ranging rules they can apply to control or even muzzle speakers if they so wish. In any case, Councillor Innes could well look to the behaviour of councillors and others who at times have levelled unsupported accusations against presenters and people associated with presenters. That might explain the attitude of some people in the gallery who have been on the receiving end of this poor behaviour. And lastly, recently, one councillor thought it was okay to abuse a nurse manning a prepoll booth at Moruya. What did she do wrong? Well, that’s where it becomes interesting. She was simply suggesting voting for the party who would increase nurses’ numbers in hospitals. So please tell me how I should explain to my now very grown up daughter that what I told her years ago is no longer true. And what is that, you might ask? That such things as alternative truths, cherry-picking the truth and bullying are now the norms amongst those who wield the power. Donald Macdonald
What if we are only presented Alternate Truths - what if we only document alternate truths? Will history then become a lie? Without recording Council will write the new history and their written response to presentations as promised will go unchallenged and become the last word. To then become history.