Just plain ridiculous!

Bob Holland

There's one sure way to make yourself unpopular and that's to question a system that has been in place for yonks. Still, I'll take my chances.

The system I'm talking about on this occasion is having a local Council made up of elected people to represent the community in Council matters. Lord knows this has been the system for as long as one can remember and for the life of me, I still can't fathom the value of having such a system.

The way candidates nominate for Council, the way group tickets can be manipulated to influence a certain outcome, the way some candidates appear to buy their way into office through heavy advertising spends, the method the votes are counted and distributed and the fact that several who stand have no intention of serving in the first place, all leave me wondering.

All those feelings were added to last week after I saw a local news report about the Dubbo Council's situation following the amalgamations in that area.

Consider this if you will, then tell me the current system is not just plain ridiculous.

Last weekend, local Council elections were held in a number of areas where amalgamations were not an issue. Here in Orange for example, the dispute involving Cabonne, Blayney and Orange Councils meant there was no election here. In Dubbo also, and despite now having an amalgamated Council there, their next election in is not scheduled for about 12 months. That means amalgamated Councils like Dubbo, will have no Councillors or Mayor for another 12 months or so. They will also not have a General Manager but in the meantime an Administrator or some similar person will run the show. Imagine that, no Councillors and no Mayor to do whatever it is they're supposed to do for 12 months?

Say that again! Dubbo Council will function, presumably as normal, for the next 12 months or so without the need for Councillors or a Mayor.

Surely, that notion alone begs the question "why do we need them in the first place?"

My purpose here is not to evaluate exactly what a hard working and dedicated Councillor may or may not do for their community during their time of service, but rather to ask that obvious question, given what's happening in Dubbo and other places like that.

To add further weight to what I'm saying, this or similar is what the Administrator indicated in the interview when asked about how Dubbo Council would function without Councillors. He virtually said that nothing would change nor would the area be disadvantaged in any way. He said he had people around him where he could get advice etc. if needed.

Put all that together, and I for one think it's time to do away with the Councillors altogether. I think they serve little or no real purpose and at the end of the day, Council staff ultimately dictate what will or will not happen in the management or development of our City. And why shouldn't they, after all, they're the ones who are supposed to have the credentials and training in such matters.

Community input is crucial however and I think a credible, dedicated, forward thinking and appropriately resourced ratepayers association would achieve far better outcomes for our city than any group of Councillors who get elected and operate under the present system.