Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pumping the parish

Melbourne 's want-a-be clowns star lineup

Melbourne City Council hopefuls met last night for auditions for who will be elected and who will eliminated. Voters had a chance to attend one of two public meetings held within the City (Kensington and Carlton)

Less then 100 people attended the Carlton "All Nations Church" most of tyhose in attendance were directly connected with various campaigns. It was difficult to know who, if any, where truely undecided in who they will vote for.

Most punters will decide who they will support based on political alliances and or the statements published in the information instruction booklet that has been set out with ballot papers. Reports in the Herald-Sun have indicated that there is a delay in the dispatch and delivery of ballot papers with many voters reporting that they had yet to receive their ballot papers for the City Council election. Somay voters have not been engaged in the campaign.

Ballot papers must be received by the Victorian Electoral Commission before 4:PM on Friday November 28.

The meeting in Carlton, whilst not that well attended, was never the less informative. If anything it provided an opportunity to meet face to face the candidates for office. The focus of the meeting was generally on the position of Lord mayor with little to no attention given to the Council representatives who are seen as secondary support acts not not the main game.

One of the greatest problems with the current City of Melbourne electoral model is that candidates that nominate for the "leadership team" of Lord mayor and Deputy Lord mayor are in a win or lose election. If they win they are handed the keys to the Limousine and have the right to wear the gold chains and robes of office if they lose they have no opportunity to directly contribute to the cities governance.

The choice of who is elected Lord Mayor is not based on ability, questions of good governance or even policies of the various candidates. Most punters will decide who to support based on public perception and popularity not policies. Many of the Lord mayoral candidates no not have well thought out or detailed policies of governance. Will Fowles "A fresh approach" is still to publish his policies on his web site.

Catherine's Policy of Opposition

Incumbent hopeful Catherine Ng had difficulty after seven years at the helm, in justifying her position. She put forward a range of pet projects and which included a planned Town Hall campaign of opposition to the Labor State Government in 2010. Who whe was proposing to support was not clear. If you listened and believe what Catherine Ng had to say all the faults and problems facing the City where problems of State administration and that her failure to deliver on governance issues and representation did not come into consideration.

Catherine Ng, once again, was in denial about her refusal to subject the City Council to open public review of its representational model. Catherine, along with other candidates, paid lip service and supported a public review of the system sometime in the next term of office, but she failed to explain why on three previous occasions she rejected outright proposals for a public review to take place prior to current election.

Clearly there is an overwhelming need to review Melbourne representational model. Having to endure another four years of poor representation before a review is implements does not instill confidence in the existing incumbent councillors.

Professionalism versus adversarial politics.

Of the nights performances two candidates' political forces stood out as being the only candidates worthy of support.

The star performers would have to have been Nick Columb and Peter McMullin's future team. The rest just fell by the wayside.

Both Nick Columb and Peter McMullin team presented two different and diametrically opposed approaches to governance.

Compliance and perpetuation of much the same with added professionalism.

Peter McMullin has put together an experienced and diversified team capable of working closely with State Government to deliver certain outcomes for the City's future, although they did not come across at the meeting as a dynamic team they are never the less a team worthy of consideration an their campaign is extensive and costly. If you believe that Local government can best meet the needs of ratepayers, residents and business by working closely with the State Government then McMullin is your best choice.

Adversarial polices for Melbourne

If you believe that the role of Local government is to act independent and in an adversarial role then Nick Columb is a candidate that deserves consideration. Nick has provided a fresh, articlulate and passionate campaign even if he is short on campaign funds. He has pulled no punches and calls a spade a spade following the long held tradition of Australian parish politics of old. He was not proposing a people's uprising nor was he proposing compliant subordination to Spring Street or pandering to the wishes of the governing tenants of town hall. If elected Nick Columb would provide an interesting four years to come, his style of leadership would be colorful and as vibrant as Melbourne's Spring Carnival. His forthright criticism of the waste and exuberance in town hall and his manner of doing business gave a clear indication that he was more then capable of advocating a change in direction for the City of Melbourne.

Doyle a familiar dud

The award for dud candidate for the night would go to Robert Doyle's "Activivate" team. Robert Doyle continues to demonstrate his lack of commitment to Melbourne. Doyle did not turn up to either the Carlton or Kensington meetings, instead he left the campaign to be run by his Deputy Lord mayoral candidate Susan Riley. Susan Riley, who was John So's first Deputy Lord mayor back in 2001-2004 (before John So dumped her for Gary Singer) was one of the worst Deputy Lord mayors in Melbourne's history. Her groups policies of reopening Swanston street and building the Edditington tunnel are at complete odds with the direction Melbourne has been heading.

Doyle's "billboard campaign" relys solely on the recognition factor, Doyle is the most well known of all candidates. The fact that he is considered favourite to win highlights one of the greatest problems of the direct election system. It is about recognition not polcies or ability. A tell tale saign of dislike for fpoyule's nomination is the fact that all candidates in this election have placed Doyle last or low on their HTV cards.

Nick Columb summed up more or less the prevailing opinon "Robert Doyle is the sort of person you do not want as Lord mayor". His lack of commitment to this election demonstrates why he failed as opposition leader in 2002 and why, as Nick Columb puts it, "failed politicians should not be allowed to be elected to Town Hall".

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