In the course of our everyday human relations trying to …

Comment on Surprising conservative on council: Jacinta Price by Kieran Finnane.

In the course of our everyday human relations trying to be open to one another irrespective of race, gender and age is a good starting point. In analysing social relations, it is naive if not disingenuous to suggest that these things don’t matter.
Whiteness, maleness, and age correlate strongly with power in our society. These factors are expressed in very real life conditions, all of which are evident in Australia and here in Alice Springs: being subject to violence, mortality and morbidity rates, property ownership, pay gaps, poverty levels, holding executive positions, holding political office.
It can be hard for white men, however well-meaning, to recognise as anything other than normal the situation that gives them unequal access to power. With their power intact, it is easy for them to then proclaim that the system ain’t broke and doesn’t need fixing, that they are blind to race, gender and age, that we are all equals.
The last Town Council was dominated by middle-aged and older white men, who also all had small business backgrounds. This make-up is not reflective of the community make-up, although it is undoubtedly reflective of its power relations.
The Development Consent Authority is another powerful group that has been dominated by the same demographic.
(See Erwin Chanda’s analysis here and my subsequent report here.)
The outgoing town councillors had an opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to being more diversely representative when they last voted for the Deputy Mayor’s position (which rotates every 12 months). Cr Jade Kudrenko’s strong performance on council, combined with her many personal qualities, equipped her well for the role, but the dominant group on council backed their man, even though he had been in office just five months. He is a man like them in every obvious way except with fewer grey hairs, Cr Jamie de Brenni.
(See my comment here.)
This had political consequence. The Deputy Mayor’s position comes with a lot of opportunity to be out and about in the community. It’s an excellent preparing ground for assuming a greater political role and so keeping power in the family. Cr de Brenni has had the added advantage of extra time in the role when it might have been changed in March this year, giving him a higher-profile run all the way to this election.
It would be interesting to see this seemingly normal state of affairs tested by an upset result in the election that is underway. There are highly credible candidates in the field reflecting a far more diverse range of backgrounds, experiences and worldviews not to mention gender than was reflected on the last council.

Kieran Finnane Also Commented

Surprising conservative on council: Jacinta Price
Steve, You are reading far too much into this. My reference to the “old white fellas” was a light-hearted shorthand for the closely-aligned block on council that I otherwise describe as conservative. Councillor Price took it light-heartedly, as reported in the article – she laughed and answered the question without a hint of offence or defensiveness.
Any calm consideration of my journalism over the years would dispel any notion of me backing a “black and white judgemental politics of division”. On the contrary.
In this article I am simply speaking of a real division on council, between the majority block to which you belonged, as did Cr Price, and the rest (in the minority and less consistently united). Not all or even the majority of issues split council along these lines, but the more controversial ones did.


Recent Comments by Kieran Finnane

Stagnant CBD; industrial land, rental shortage; houses hold
@ Kylie Johnston. With respect, this is not a ‘media conversation’ but a report from a Town Council meeting open to the public.
Perhaps you will want to take up your concerns with Cr Auricht and Mr Doyle, whose comments are accurately reported.
Kind regards, Kieran Finnane.


Town Council riven by conflict, lack of leadership
@ Alex Nelson. Councillor Paterson is mistaken. I have checked the audio of the meeting: he was clearly nominated by Cr Cocking and Cr de Brenni seconded the nomination.


To die for country
@ John Bell: Dr Nelson’s message about equality is clearly expressed in his words that I have cited, about Australians all being “equal – irrespective of politics, race or religion”.
On reflection, his meaning when he said “they denied their Aboriginality to fight and die for the young nation”, is likely referring to those who enlisted either having found a way around their exclusion from the armed forces on the basis of their race, or having had their Aboriginal descent overlooked. “Denied their Aboriginality” seems to me an unfortunate choice of words to cover these circumstances.
Readers may be interested in further details on this topic in an article on the War Memorial’s site:
https://www.awm.gov.au/articles/indigenous-service/report-executive-summary


No gaol for Peace Pilgrims: sentence
Phil, They did indeed suffer consequence, as the article above and the series of reports from the trials make clear. For victimless acts of civil disobedience they were tried under harsh Cold War era legislation, facing maximum penalties of seven years imprisonment. This hung over them for a year.
They were found guilty and were sentenced, proportionately to the nature of the offence and their circumstances. Fines ranged between $5000 and $1250. Considerable penalties for people who live their lives in voluntary simplicity, without substantial income, and in service of those in need.


The ‘tough gig’ of doing things the right way
Thanks for the correction, Alex. I will amend the story accordingly.
I should also add that the demolition of the abandoned house, and the subsequent fencing of the site was done by way of compensation to custodians, after a telecom tower was erected on top of the range at the Gap without their permission.


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