Racial vilification law change: Council adopts policy

p2134-Gathering-GardenBy ERWIN CHLANDA

 

The Town Council last night came to a conclusion about its stance on the Federal Government’s partial repeal of the Racial Discrimination Act.

 

The council will not oppose the repeal of Section 18C but discussed a resolution “that there be protection against racial vilification”.

 

Cr Jade Kudrenko successfully moved to add the words “including offences relating to offending, insulting, and humiliating”. The council will inform the Committee of Freedom of Speech accordingly.

 

That was carried with only one apparent vote against – that of Cr Steve Brown who cautioned that this “dangerous addition” may create the risk of “misinterpretation”. There was no formal division.

 

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The council discussed the spending of $25,000 on drawing up a “Public Art Master Plan – Strategic Plan”.

 

The committee meeting minutes noted that the Public Art Advisory Committee had “not been allocated a working budget for next year”.

 

Cr Eli Melky suggested another master plan may be yet another plan “on the shelf, collecting dust”.

 

Mayor Damien Ryan said it would be useful, in the case of “another philanthropic offer” to know where to put it and mentioned the gathering garden (pictured) on the civic centre block.

 

He did not mention the Stuart statue although a woman – in the segment of the meeting where the public can address the council – brought it up and claimed the explorer may have committed massacres.

 

Cr Melky asked if there had been stakeholder consultation when the Traeger Park mural was commissioned and whether the stakeholders would get a say in the formulation of a public arts master plan.

 

Community Services Director suggested no such plan could be formulated without significant participation of stakeholders.

 

Cr Melky said one particular masterplan had the benefit of consultation with just eight people. The motion was carried.

 

• • •

 

The council will tell the NT Government, which is thinking about creating a Territory Day holiday, that this should not happen “at the expense of existing public holidays”.

 

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Mayor Damien Ryan said he was feeling “uncomfortable” as Cr Melky raised an issue he foreshadowed at the council committee meeting a fortnight ago.

 

This (in summary) is what he said: The matter was in relation to the Mayor … about his appointments … discussion in media … an entirely appropriate discussion … Mayor Ryan at the last committee meeting was there but not in the room … he was on the phone … the discussion can now proceed because he is in the room.

 

As it turned out, Mayor Ryan asked Deputy Mayor Kylie Bonanni to take the chair and left the room.

 

Cr Melky was clearly determined not to articulate what he was on about: Some media reports … the Mayor’s appointments … suggestions he may not be in a position to perform his job … it would reflect badly on the council … quite a bit of discussion in the community … appropriate to move a motion of confidence.

 

Cr Melky seemed to be talking about the disclosure in the Alice Springs News Online about three jobs the Mayor has on NT Government boards, netting him $102,000 a year, in addition to his $100,000 mayoral pay.

 

No other councillor commented on the issue. Cr Melky’s motion was carried.

 

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