Vote ‘yes’ in referendum or face higher rates: Mayor

Vote ‘yes’ in the coming referendum on constitutional recognition of local government or definitely face increased rates in the future and risk loss of direct funding from the Commonwealth, such as money for local roads through Roads to Recovery and other community infrastructure grants. This is the message that Mayor Damien Ryan wants his fellow councillors to take to the electorate. With apparently more than 30% of voters making up their minds on polling day, he urged them, at last night’s end of month council meeting, to all be present at the booths on September 14.

 

Mayor Ryan, together with CEO Rex Mooney and Councillor Brendan Heenan, attended last week’s National General Assembly of Local Government in Canberra, where the referendum was at the top of the agenda. He said constitutional recognition would not infringe state or territory rights: councils would still be formed and operate under state or territory legislation.

 

The ‘yes’ case has bipartisan support and the clear preference for it at the federal level is reflected in the funding of the ‘yes’ campaign: the Commonwealth is putting $10m towards it in contrast to only $500,000 for the ‘no’ case. Mayor Ryan thought the support for the ‘no’ case was “generous” given that only two members voted against the relevant Bill, compared to 134 in favour.

 

Solar lighting along the river

 

As if by way of reminder, a slice of the Commonwealth pie was being handed out in a hurry. Councillors had to quickly decide last night on what small local project they would like to see funded by a grant of $74,000, the maximum they can apply for out of $105m on offer from the  Commonwealth to regional and rural councils.

 

Unfortunately toilets are specifically excluded; otherwise toilets for the skatepark would have got the tick. Councillors supported instead an application for solar-powered lighting along the Todd River.

 

Ask the locals first

 

Council looked set last night to approve the installation of a 1.8m high chain mesh fence along Winnecke Avenue, for a cost of $20,000, with community consultation on the plan to follow. Councillor Jade Kudrenko took issue with the process: shouldn’t the consultation happen  first?

 

She accepted there is a safety issue, with balls and children coming onto the road, but said residents and the Soccer Association may have alternative ideas about how to deal with it. Councillors supported her logic. (The proposed fence will not restrict access – there will be two gates about one third of the way from each end.)

 

More and better ‘big brother’

 

Cr Kudrenko also did a double take when Craig Catchlove, Director of Corporate and Community Services, announced with some delight that council has been successful in obtaining money for two relocatable, high-tech CCTV cameras. It was the first she’d heard of it.

 

They record in high definition and can be programmed to look for activity in specific areas, said Mr Catchlove. For example, they could target rock-throwing from Anzac Hill, delivering low res images to a smart phone, allowing authorities to immediately initiate a response.

 

Who would be monitoring? Cr Kudrenko wanted to know. Either council or the police, depending on the targeted activity, said Mayor Ryan.

 

Have issues to do with privacy and surveillance been explored? asked Cr Kudrenko. Irrelevant in a public place, said Mr Catchlove. And residents may not know it but they are already subject to surveillance by this type of CCTV every time they move up and down Hartley Street. Who’s doing that surveillance? asked Cr Kudrenko.  Private landlords.

 

Will councillors hear more about how these new cameras are going to be used? asked Cr Kudrenko. Sure, replied the Mayor. Just as soon as the funding agreement is concluded.

 

– KIERAN FINNANE

 

 

 

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6 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Domenico Pecorari
    Posted July 9, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    Thanks, Dan Kilgariff, for the links, both of which provided a better explanation of the issue than the threatening utterances from our local government representatives.
    I could agree with a “Yes” vote, but only if local government was run more professionally, was more transparent and more answerable to its citizens and ratepayers. Perhaps it is for the same reasons that the issue has failed to be passed on two previous referendums?

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  2. Russell Guy
    Posted July 6, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    @ R Henry, posted June 26, 2013 at 6: 15 pm.
    I’m with you on this one. There is a lot more to recognising local government in the Constitution and legislation by stealth in the guise of a referendum can close the door on community options.

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  3. Erwin Chlanda
    Posted July 1, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    I’m placing this on behalf of Danny Kilgariff, formerly of Alice Springs, now of Tailem Bend, SA:

    Hello Erwin, I saw Kieran Finnane’s article about local government recognition in the constitution, and thought you might like to publish the following links which provide detailed analysis about the matter.

    http://www.crikey.com.au/2013/03/19/crikey-clarifier-local-government-recognition-in-the-constitution/

    http://www.quadrant.org.au/magazine/issue/2012/4/why-local-government-should-not-be-recognised-in-the-constitution

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  4. Hal Duell
    Posted June 30, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    Solar lighting along the Todd is a really good idea. Had the proposal been put up for public consultation, I would have said the same.

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  5. R Henry
    Posted June 27, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    The procedure over the fence and the camera is another reason this council needs some looking into.
    Damien’s attitude is also a bit off-putting.

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  6. R Henry
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    When all sides of parliament agree on something like this one has to wonder what is behind it. This move will not make money to local governments anymore secure as the system already has procedures for doing so now.

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