Welcome to this week’s editorial,
We are now hopefully coming from a period of ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ to ‘Eyes Wide Open’, both locally and federally.
Our local councillors stood on a platform of openness and transparency and are slowly beginning to whittle their way through an endemic toxicity that has been allowed to fester for several years. Akin to a popping a boil, methodical and well aimed ‘lancing’ now needs to be carried out so that it doesn’t unnecessarily smear the many dedicated staff who are committed to their tasks, and to their community.
Like the federal government, our new councillors are taking up the reins and setting a new path forward that will hopefully include the community in the vital decision making processes of where best to spend a reducing budget in a period of cost blowouts. Basically the new Council will need to assess its priorities, limit its promises and focus on getting the important stuff done before they consider going after the tinsel. One of the key changes the new Council must make is to be open about the details of their budget. Presently the numbers are so ethereal that they are not open to scrutiny. That might have suited the old guard however the newly elected Council is now turning the tide with a swathe of new faces and appointments.
The last term of Council offered very little vision from the ex-mayor and her peers. The rudder was given instead to a select few and we were left to sail forth on the “Good Ship Lollypop” on a course that no-one, let alone the community nor the councillors, had any idea of. That has now changed and the Poop-deck is now in the control of the new councillors, much to the disappointment of some of the remaining ‘petty’ officers who, it is understood, might be considering their demotions and considering whether to follow others down taut bowlines to the docks.
Ahead of us we have a shire rate increase that won’t cover CPI or the price hikes we are seeing for fuel, gas, electricity, utilities, goods and services as they apply to Council business. Our Business. The time has come when we will need to consider our Council budget as closely as our own household budgets. The only way we can do this is to know all the inputs. All of Them. If there is to be less mowing then let us determine where. Less tip days, then let us determine when. Fewer toilet cleans? Less library hours, less roads graded. Let us determine why?
With local government we are all expected to contribute to our revenue. There are very few exceptions other than discretionary charity or community dispensations. Like taxes, if we don’t contribute we are pursued. It seems fair. We apparently live in a country that has at its heart “a fair go for all”.
As per the example we now see with a new council there is an opportunity Federally to begin afresh and to recognise the corruption of process that we have endured that have tainted our national name and done so much damage in our names for the benefit of the few. Like NSW we need a Federal ICAC—and we need a universal spotlight brought back to ensure our processes are not corrupted by greed or ego.
I am reminded from time to time that Australia is one and free and, apparently, having golden soil and wealth for toil, not to mention the plethora of nature's gifts that are deemed to be rich and rare.
We can’t argue that our home is girt by sea and according to our national song we are renowned of all the lands. This might explain why, for those across the seas, it seems we have boundless plains to share.
But is this the reality? There seems to be an ever increasing divide when it comes to being one. In fact it looks like our newly added “one” was just a pandering construct. The reality is that there are major chasms in our “oneness” when it comes to social equity. Hopefully we might now be able to address it and make it as “one as possible”.
It can’t be argued that we have golden soil and wealth for toil but the average Australian sees very little by way of benefit as the bulk of our wealth is exported yet returns little, if any, revenue by way of taxes.
As for nature’s gifts, we had them. The Barrier Reef, koalas, forests, a land devoid of plastic bait bags, roadside litter and cigarette butts. Now we suck our rivers dry, slash and burn our forests and rape and pillage our resources at the cost of the environment.
As for being a country that is ‘renowned of all the lands’ our reputation has changed and we are now renowned for all the wrong reasons.
With climate change, with angry borders, with soaring costs and unachievable dreams of home ownership, with ongoing international and national racism and the continued less-than– subtle influences of self entitled Christian zealots and failed media tycoons, we have a long road back to restoring the Australia we dream of rather than being the reality that is served up that only divides us further.