I did the unprecedented thing last night, I walked out of council making the comment as I went that the money councillors spend is NOT THEIR OWN. I know I say this often about council, state and Federal politicians because the belief they own our money is a furphy, while they might have care and control in the day to day, it’s not their money and there is a degree of honour attached to all things we take to the community and act upon. While there are numerous times over the past years things have been changed without the support or knowledge of the community two major items spring to mind here in Liverpool.
First is the promise that was made when we were being asked as a community to agree to the special rate variation. I attended all the community information sessions relating to this issue and was swayed by the promise that with the SRV we would not be borrowing money, that the SRV would fill the void. One councillor at the time said : over my dead body will this be extended or continued” clearly he’s still alive and happy to live in the knowledge he lied (or simply forgot) to the community who trusted him to stand by his word. Then again he was not alone and we all know that little nugget was not of gold as we might have expected but a load of “sh*t” as it turned out. Onto the second most recent, the one that had me leave council last night. Again this is something I’ve written about before, I stand passionately as your representative on the Environmental Advisory Committee and have lobbied long and hard that what was promised in the initial request to apply an environment levy was delivered. There will always be people who have a differing view of what should and should not happen in council, lord knows we’ve had more than one delay in implementing promised outcomes but on this I stand firm. We said we would provide to the community and environmental centre and community nursery as part of the funds collected… we have the money set aside. However there have been those, interestingly the same person as I mentioned above, who have continually and deliberately stymied the delivery of the promised centre, time and time again. To be clear, there have been sites selected, there is money to build and set up what can and would have been a self funding cost neutral centre over time. You have already paid for it from your enviro levy. We have engaged consultants who, while pointing out some minor overcomable concerns endorsed the building…. UNTIL our former CEO, saw the bucket of money and wanted it absorbed into general funds and commissioned ANOTHER consultant report that interestingly highlighted some other option as an outcome. The old expression money can buy any opinion you want may be truer than I had ever thought or perhaps its interpretation, I guess I’ll never know. There are only two community reps who have been on the EAC for the entire time. Last night after attending 1 (ONE) meeting new councillor Rhodes spoke in council as the ‘authority opinion’ against the centre… while others said they’d never heard of a successful nursery, I suggest they look at Sutherland council and Wollondilly, Sutherland Council recently issued a video singing the praise of theirs (link below). Cllr Harle used his chairpersons vote to break the tie and support some of the members on the floodplain committee- not the EAC but now combined committee (interestingly led by the same bloke as above) to oppose as he has always done, spending the money as was initially promised. The vote was 7 for and 7 against with Cllr Harles casting vote going twice to the negative.
OK to be clear this rant is NOT ABOUT A NURSERY, I am not a gardener, I am passionate about the environment and I am even more passionate that integrity and honour is upheld and if WE PROMISE AN ENVIRO/NURSERY WE NEED TO DELIVER A NURSERY/ENVIRO CENTRE. I accept that all people concerned are entitled to different opinions, I am however also very clear in that what we promise we need to deliver on all things great and small. Clearly there are going to be and were differing views on this, I respect that.
My second big issue of the day:
I am also aware many of you will be hearing the media conversations in relation to the Greens, the party I represent locally and think it is probably worth explaining what the media is not. I do this as an individual, not the convenor/spokesperson of our local group
- Greens members join a state party, there is no Federal membership to my knowledge just an affiliation of all groups to the greater.
- Greens NSW has a strong leaning towards equity and supporting our 4 pillars. (Listed below)
- Greens NSW expect our representatives on all levels of Governance to represent the views of the membership/therefore their voters and supporters, they don’t have conscience votes and they are spokespeople not decision makers.
- Decisions they need to represent are debated throughout the membership before becoming policy, we meet regularly to hammer out our positions and reach consensus. Like sausage making the process isn’t always pretty but the outcome superb.
- Greens NSW discussed the potential shortfalls for local schools on the Gonski 2.0 and made it clear, many of us directly to all our Fed Senators and most certainly to our state senator that we did not support Gonski 2.0 (Seriously too many of our local public schools were going to be significantly worse off under the Turnbull changes)
- Our senator acted in direct support of the membership decision.
- there are calls for the National Greens to look closely at the decision to stand our State senator down, (basically not include her in discussions in the party room) as our convenors have indicated publicly we don’t see it in correlation with our constitution.
- There are comments that this is the NSW Greens or the Greens nationally imploding, this is not true, I have witnessed unprecedented support for our Senator and condemnation of the public outburst and leaking that has allowed what could have been discussed civilly and sorted out as a grab for media and power. Worth noting those who are doing the leaking are getting off scot free.
- Most people who have supported the Greens over time, have done so because we stick to our principled and environmentally focused agenda. The one we publicise and advertise as we advocate. We carefully evaluate the impacts on the greater population and always aim to bring better outcomes for the majority not the few.
- Equity is a right, education should be readily available for all and not based on your ability to pay more.
In summary, when you elect an MP or a Senator, it is not unreasonable to expect that they (regardless of the party) represent the needs of the people who elect them, that is the state from which they come and are elected to represent. If more senators did this, again regardless of the party, would we be seeing the Great Barrier Reef being destroyed, would we be seeing wholesale destruction of our forests, would we be seeing massive foreign ownership, would we see coal mining growing instead of renewable energy options etc etc ? From what I have observed Mr Brown has had a long standing personal issue with our Ms Rhiannon, he regularly throws comments that incite and cause a media storm, sadly his once respected view is becoming nothing more than a bitter old man who doesn’t like to play in the sandpit anymore. Is he seeking relevance? who knows but his outdated and sad attempts are not doing him or the party any good.
Of course all these views are mine, based on what I have witnessed myself, you are free to disagree, comment even, I’ll print it here as you write it. I welcome discussion, even that of those who have a completely different view and I respect differences as long as they are debated with respect and goodwill. Clearly my opinions are just that, I’m sure others will have their own. I bear no ill will to those with whom I disagree, only that all opinions should be aired freely for others to make up their own minds.
As always, send your views, add a comment or voice your concerns… Clearly I do, so am happy to ensure you have a platform to do likewise.
The Four Pillars of the NSW Greens:
Ecological sustainability | Social equality and economic justice | Grassroots democracy | Peace, nonviolence and disarmament
Sutherland council video 7/6/17 on Sutherland council Facebook page.
In this week’s Mayoral Message Mayor Carmelo Pesce visited our Native Plant Nursery to chat to Bushcare Coordinator Jonathan Watson and his staff about the importance of native plants for our local environment and ways in which the community can contribute.
Look out for your native plant voucher which entitles you to two free tube stock each year in your July rates notice.
For more information on Sutherland Shire Bushcare and how to become a volunteer visit bit.ly/2sQGx7D