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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Editorial Aug 18th 2023

Welcome to this week’s editorial, You might find a few letters to the editor in this edition written in response to Council’s decision around a recommendation by Council’s Aboriginal Advisory Committee (AAC) . The motion that was put to councillors was: THAT Council consider the following recommendation: 1. We the members of the Aboriginal Advisory Committee recommend that the Eurobodalla Shire Council supports a ‘yes’ vote in the referendum for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament. Also, that the Council advises all residents of Eurobodalla Shire about this decision and advertises this decision in signs on the council’s properties”. If you pull this apart you will see that, when put to the vote, it would firstly reveal those councillors who did not support a ‘yes’ vote in the referendum for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament. Any Councillor who did not raise their hand would be noted as a dissenter. But look carefully, the second part of the motion requested Council to advise all residents of Eurobodalla Shire about this decision and advertise this decision in signs on the council’s properties. There is no mention of who would pay for this, who would erect the signs, who would design the signs, who would maintain the signs given that 48% are polling to vote NO, and as such the signs would be vandalised. Simply there is no budget and the Council can't just vote to add an unknown cost to a budget under stress. Maybe the wording of the posters and hoardings might have a group photo of the councillors with the caption "We support the yes vote". What if a councillor didn’t support it? Could they stand aside at the photoshoot. There is little doubt that any Councillor who voted NOT to support this two part motion would be characterised as a NO voter. The last time I looked how a person voted was a private thing. The joy of democracy. This referendum has become very divisive to the point, as was shown yesterday, that “you are either with us or against us”. It reminds me of Spain’s Queen Isabella the Catholic when she and her husband instituted the Spanish Inquisition in 1478 to achieve religious unity by punishing non-Christians, doubters, and heretics. A show of voting against yesterday would have resulted in a proverbial Yellow Cross of David painted on that councillor.

Above: Carceres, Spain - photo by lei. There have been countless explanations across the media of why we should vote YES. In turn there are dissenters in an equally vocal NO camp offering their perspective to those who care to read or listen. But at the end of the day it is your vote and my vote. My private vote that I do not have to reveal to anyone. That same right should be is extended to our councillors. How they vote is their business. The motion put forward to vote, with a show of hands, that “ Eurobodalla Shire Council supports a ‘yes’ vote in the referendum” puts councillors in precarious position. “I have to vote YES to support this and if I vote NO I will be vilified and labelled”. As is the case Councillors are now being vilified for daring to offer an amended motion that was voted by a majority and with Worthington and Mayne in dissent There may have been a gallery of YES voters attending the Council meeting who walked out after the Council voted an amendment. By calling out “Shame, Shame, Shame” they appeared to have not listened carefully to the reasons councillors gave for their determination. Councillors were painted into a corner by the motion they were presented. A vote of NO might have revealed how some might vote in the referendum. A vote of NO might well have been a vote against emblazoning every Council owned asset in the shire with a “we support the YES vote”. No party is allowed to display their electioneering advertising on Council assets but here was a Council committee requesting that Council do so, as if it were immune to Electoral Commission rules. So Council voted on the amendment below:

Now councillors are being accused of sitting on the fence and failing to represent their community by voting for this amendment rather than voting to support the YES camp and to placard Council assets across the shire saying “This Council is a YES council”, possibly encouraging other councils to follow. Now they are receiving hate mail. Council have instead proactively directed the community to their comprehensive website that offers links to a wealth of VOICE information. To do otherwise would have been undemocratic. If you were a councillor how would you have voted, and is hate mail a reasonable response if the councillors voted on an amended motion they considered neutral, yet positive directing the community to accredited resources providing more information? Voters will vote on the information they have gleaned and hopefully not seduced by a placard that says “Council supports the Yes vote (and therefore so should you)”. As to how I am going to vote? That’s remains private to ensure I don’t influence your vote or suffer abuse from one camp or another. Fence sitting? I don’t think so. Until next lei

ABC Sth East interview with Clr Amber Schutz by Lisa Markham August 17th 2023 Recorded under Fair Dealing All copy right remains with ABC


NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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