'Make up your own mind'
Well the election hasn't even been run and we already have candidates forming alliances, telling voters how to distribute their preferences and squabbling over who said what and when. Candidate promises such as represent Warrnambool and stop the infighting, brings a smile to ones face. I received four WCC election advertising flyers in my letterbox on Monday and three of the four told me how to distribute my preferences. Mr Campbell's was the only one I received that didn't try to influence my voting preferences. I must admit his slogan of 'my priority is to listen', was most refreshing. I urge all voters to think carefully about their votes and preferences and make up their own minds. I applaud all candidates who have shown confidence in the intelligence of the voters and haven't attempted to dictate a preference order or to form a block alliance. Whilst not pushing any one candidate, a combination of new and old is usually a healthy mix.
Gavin Arnott, Allansford
Any political allegiance?
With 24 candidates running in the Warrnambool City Council election it's literally a Melbourne Cup field with the same number of starters as the first Tuesday in November at Flemington. However while the form of cup runners is analysed exhaustively not a lot is known about many of the council aspirants. We all support the filling of potholes and picking up dog poo but much more is needed when we cast our votes. It's called shared principles and values. An important addition to required information should be that all candidates declare if they are currently or have been a member of any political party. For example most of us in 2020 would be appalled if we accidentally voted for or preferenced a candidate who is associated with the racist One Nation outfit. A statewide reform as this would strengthen our democracy at the local level.
Tony Delaney, Warrnambool
Cr Michael Neoh made derogatory comments of the Harbour Reference Group (HRG) in his thoughts on the Warrnambool harbour development and what it should look like. (The Standard, October 7). HRG members are incensed at his comment: "The trepidation shown by the reference group to make any decision shows there are no guarantees".
Whilst it is a complex issue there is no trepidation on our behalf. We have firm ideas about solutions and have vigorously voiced them at HRG meetings. This, coming from the previous mayor, who in 2013 (with then WCC CEO) was offered funding to develop the Warrnambool harbour by a previous influential state politician. Not only did Cr Neoh reject this great offer but he failed to apprise other city councillors and this was never tabled. He has rarely attended a HRG meeting and while minutes would be made available, they do not reflect the robust debate often had. Referring to HRG members as acting with "trepidation" is disgraceful. It is an affront to all members and disrespect us. HRG members are volunteers and give their considerable time freely and gladly impart their knowledge to other group members and WCC. WCC has shown great trepidation in this matter, not members of the reference group.
Neville Dance, Steve Tippett, Rodney Blake, Tammy Good - Harbour Reference Group members - Warrnambool
No wasting funds
Cr Jim Doukas recently hit the nail on the head with his comment regarding how critical it was for council to 'keep on top of its finances.' A veteran Moyne Shire councillor, Cr. Doukas' comments highlight why Warrnambool and district ratepayers will face an 80 per cent increase above the state government's 'Fair Go' recommended rate cap next financial year.
In stark contrast Moyne ratepayers will not be lumped with these same excessive rate increases. Inefficiency, poor management and waste within a bloated council structure are some of the reasons why the Warrnambool City council is needing to drain struggling ratepayer's pockets.
Mayor Tony Herbert has already highlighted how the council is 'unsustainable in its current form'. Sacked CEO Mr. Peter Schneider also wisely noted that in his experience 'the answers to most challenges we face, lie within.'
My guess is the reference to 'within' did not refer to ratepayer's pockets.Having worked in the public service and seen how easy apathy and wasteful habits develop when their is not wise accountability at the top, I often used wonder how well the public decision makers would have survived in business if their own livelihood was on the line.
Spending $30,000 of ratepayers money on a public consultation to seek ratepayers opinion on lifting rates by 80 per cent above 'Fair Go' and then ignoring the outcome is one example of bewildering practices ratepayers foot the bill for.
Dr Michael McCluskey, candidate, Warrnambool City Council
Spare a thought for staff
Let's not forget the work of the majority of Warrnambool City Council staff during the Covid and Council crises.
Amid all this, council's 600 staff have been incredible. Getting on with their jobs - putting the community first and supporting those who need it most.
I want to sincerely thank them and acknowledge that this year must be one of the hardest periods ever to work at council.
The Ombudsman's report has been released which confirms there was not widespread credit card misuse by staff. Despite this being a relief, we cannot underestimate the impact that David McMahon's actions and behaviour had on all other staff, council's reputation and the community's loss of trust in council.
It will take time and will not be easy to rebuild. The next group of councillors will need to work as a team and resist emotion and division.
They must truly live the values of the organisation - in word and in deed.
As the Ombudsman said in her report "communities rely on their council to practice unified and strong civic leadership".
Trust and confidence take time to rebuild - I hope I have the privilege of using my expertise and experience as a facilitator and professional collaborator to get council back on track for the sake of staff and our community.
Bruce Campbell, Warrnambool City Council Candidate, Warrnambool