The Yarra City Council in Inner Melbourne earned the disgust of many Australians this week by decided to completely remove any recognition of Australia Day. The Turnbull Government responded by stripping the authority of the council to conduct citizenship ceremonies. In response, a group of Australians decided to organise an Australia Day barbeque in the council area to show their support for our national day.
But Yarra City Council were unmoved by the backlash. It should be noted this is the same council who only a few weeks back approved the construction of a memorial to people who died from drug overdoses in the city area. Back in 2011 it proposed to put a levy on outdoor heating at restaurants to fight climate change and instead recommended diners keep warm with a blanket.
Though Yarra City are not the only Inner Melbourne council that has been pursuing a social justice agenda. The neighbouring City of Darebin will this Monday consider their own Australia Day motion which would see the council move their citizenship ceremonies from Australia Day and rename their Australia Day Awards the Darebin Community Awards. Darebin is another Labor/Greens/Independent dominated council however at least here one Councillor described the motion as “just crazy”. Darebin has also passed a motion to offer free council facilities to same sex marriage campaigners and blacklisting opponents in the upcoming plebiscite.
Another council in Inner Melbourne has been susceptible to this type of motion is Moreland City Council which is also a Labor/Greens/Socialist/Independent council. A motion to move their citizenship ceremonies from Australia Day was defeated back in June by one vote. Moreland also recently debated a motion to have the council conduct its own treaty negotiations with the local Aboriginal community. Moreland also decided to sponsor a leftist anti-racism rally in Coburg in 2016 which resulted in patriot and nationalist groups deciding to counter protest the council’s actions which the leftist rabble assembled did not take kindly too.
Ordinary ratepayers are likely unaware of local governments diverting council funds to these leftist causes, in fact they are probably unaware of most of their local council’s activities. The actions of these inner Melbourne councils should spark debate about what is the proper jurisdiction of local governments.
Local governments in Victoria exist under the Local Government Act 1989 Vic. The Victorian state government has the ability set the jurisdiction of local government and the ability sack councils who are deemed unfit to govern, as recently happened to the City of Greater Geelong.
Some conservatives have the more radical opinion that we should abolish local government altogether as it would reduce government spending and bureaucracy. However, given the opposition to council amalgamation in neighbouring New South Wales such a proposal would never gain electoral support.
A better proposal to stop local councils indulging in social justice issues like those in Inner Melbourne have done recently is to a) make local council elections more transparent b) state governments limiting the jurisdictions of local governments so limit what they can spend ratepayers’ money on and to limit their abilities to set regulations. It is a power that state governments have rarely used in an assertive manner.
Voters in local government elections receive limited information about who they are forced to vote for. In Victoria, local government elections are conducted by a postal vote, all candidates (except for the City of Melbourne, which ironically has less social justice campaigning and has a Liberal Mayor) cannot tell you which political party they are from on the ballot paper, hence many socialist independents run.
Many people for vote for candidates based on what the candidates say about themselves in the pamphlet with their postal vote which only a continues minute information about the candidate. Hence why many far-left candidates are elected to local government and behave in this manner. If local council elections were conducted in the same attendance voting manner as state and federal elections we might see more voter engagement and a leaner local government.
It is not just ratepayers in these local councils who are suffering due to their left-wing antics, they also have a broader impact in threatening Australia’s social cohesion. Recent polling indicated 85% of Australians support Australia Day yet the actions of these councils threaten the unity this day is designed to represent. We cannot just keep getting outraged at these council decisions yet nothing chances. Reform of the jurisdiction and election of local governments must be considered.