With the election of a new council I was looking for a fresh start. In short, for better governance. So far the signs have not been entirely promising.
Election to council surely means, as the Oath of Office states, being willing ‘’to undertake the duties of councillor in the best interests of the people’’. Infighting, grandstanding and pointscoring do not serve these interests well. Undue attention to such behaviour by The Standard makes for entertaining reading, more so than accounts of discussion about funding applications, but it also lowers community respect for the council.
This emphasis is unfair to those councillors and officers who work together professionally. I do not suggest that there is no place for robust discussion, for differing points of view. Individual councillors bring a range of ideas, skills and experience to the office, which should enhance the collective wisdom of its decisions. But ultimately a council is a team, working for the common good, and its decisions should reflect this. Individuals will not always have their way and if the dissention is sufficiently serious there are clear guidelines for handling it.
Eventually, if necessary, an independent authority will settle the matter and there it should rest. Then the council moves on, with civility and common sense, having left all egos in the car park. There are more than enough important issues to concern our elected representatives. Those with their constituents’ best interests at the forefront of their minds will be working with council officers to make our city more liveable. They will be concerned with planning our future, with advocating for funding to ensure these plans come into being, with making sure we use what we have effectively and prudently.
Not being an elected councillor, I write from a constituency of one. But it seems that there are a lot of people who share the point of view that Warrnambool City Council really needs to take a deep breath and get on with what we elected it to do, to govern our city in our name.
Elaine Hill, Warrnambool