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when banality meets mediocrity

Earlier this year as Covid turned our normality upside down the Minister for Local Government took it upon herself, six months out, to cancel the September 2020 ordinary local government elections in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many at the time believed this was a knee jerk reaction by the Minister, however the decision was set in concrete under section 318B of the Local Government Act 1993 and the Council elections we should be having this month were officially postponed for another year. The current councillors will continue to hold their civic office until 4 September 2021. At today's (8th September 2020) Council meeting the councillors were asked to vote on the recommendation that Council note that the local government elections will now be held on Saturday 4 September 2021 with the NSW Electoral Commission administering the elections on Council’s behalf; and that there be an election for be nine councillors (one of whom is to be a popularly elected Mayor) The Local Government Act requires the number of Councillors to be at least 5 and not more than 15 (one of who is the Mayor). Since 1970, the Eurobodalla community has been represented by nine Councillors. Data provided by the Office of Local Government, under the Your Council portal, indicates that Eurobodalla is categorized as a Group 4 Council. Under this grouping, the average number of Councillors is 10. The average population per Councillor is 3,965. Eurobodalla currently has 9 Councillors and the average population per Councillor is 4,231. The Councillors were also advised via a report to today's meeting that Council has previously appointed individual Councillors to represent it on community committees and other organisations saying "At its meeting on 25 September 2018, Council determined the term for committee appointments to be 2 years. This concludes in September 2020. As the current Council’s term has been extended for a further 12 months, it is proposed to consider the extension of these appointment for the next 12 months. Extending these appointments provides continuity to the current committees." During discussion around the item of Deferment of Council elections Councillor Pat McGinlay said "I totally understand that whole situation, but people have to speak up, and I'm doing so now and I don't believe we should have postponed for 12 months". The Chair of the meeting, Mayor Liz Innes responded immediately with "Well Councillor, I believe at the end of the day, if you feel so strongly about it, there's no problem if any councillor felt if they weren't democratically elected YOU could always put your resignation in if YOU felt that strongly about it". The discussion then became a little terse with Clr McGinlay suggestion the Mayor's comment "was a bit off the record". It was clear that Clr McGinlay was taken aback by what he considered as a suggestion HE should resign with the Mayor countering that she had said "Councillor, I did not say YOU should resign, I said you always have the option if that is what you want to do. I did not say YOU should resign.. at all". The discussion then included input from other councillors with the revelation that Councillor McGinaly had no thoughts of resigning over the issue saying "he was a bit surprised that the Mayor could even raise it as a possibility". It is becoming clear that the councillors, now only Zooming their meetings, are simply going through the paces taking home their $1000 per meeting. The meeting agendas have become so mediocre that most take half an hour at best with only rare Questions on Notice or Notices of Motion and even rarer Urgent Matters. For most of the councillors attending it is little more than a hand raising exercise as they endorse one staff recommendation after another and had Councillor McGinlay added a touch of spice to today's meeting it would have been the dullest meeting held this year outside the near record breaking meeting that lasted just over 20 minutes a few weeks ago (that would have been 19 minutes if not for a non-urgent fanfare). The bottom line is that the councillors we have today will be insitu for another 12 months. While they can all resign their positions if they wish none appear to want to. What do we have instore for the 12 months ahead? the words banality and mediocrity come to mind

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