‘Fraudulent and deceptive’ Gympie regional divisions must go
Letter to the Editor
I wholeheartedly support Rosie Fitzgerald and endorse the substance of her Letter to the Editor ( Gympie Times, March 25).
Ms Fitzgerald was responding to the first anniversary statement by Mayor Hartwig in the GT the previous day.
Her first point is that council needs to make more of an effort to communicate with its employers, the ratepayers.
Many of them are elderly people who, as Ms Fitzgerald points out, do not access the internet for news or, in many cases, anything at all. But they do pay their rates.
Technology is a great way of communicating with those who can use it, but it is also a useful way of reducing transparency and accountability (“screening out” ) those who cannot access it.
Perhaps council could consider an inexpensive information sheet, itemised by Division, sent with the rate notice?
It might have the added advantage of giving the impression that we get something for our money.
Her second point is both telling and disturbing. She refers to Mayor Hartwig’s statement that, once elected, councillors... ”no longer represent their division.”
She laments that for 20 years Kilkivan has highlighted to council “ community consultation” sessions the need for an “ageing in place” facility. And she adds that, prior to the last election,” two of the current councillors publicly supported our proposal.”
Apparently, nothing has been heard from them since. Meanwhile, I believe, the council has approved the establishment of two major aged-care facilities for Gympie.
One wonders how much “community consultation” preceded the decision by the previous council to invest $3,000,000 in an equestrian centre that is arguably in the wrong town, lacks the necessary supporting infrastructure and is likely to be under-utilised for a long time.
But to the election slight-of- hand that makes election by Divisions a complete farce.
Is it not, in fact, something of a fraud on the voting public, the ratepayers?
One of the failings of the previous council was its remoteness — amounting almost to anonymity. Councillors seeking re-election after four years on the public purse had to introduce themselves to their employers.
I, for one, had hoped for better this time. After all, when challenged to do so, six of the current councillors undertook to meet twice a year with their divisional constituents to keep abreast of issues and give progress reports.
Surely, they did not already know they would have no direct obligation to, or responsibility for, the Division in which they sought election.
It is clearly time to abandon this demonstrably irrelevant process of election by Divisions.
It may be an electoral convenience, but it probably diminishes the chances of getting the best people for the job if there really is one. And ,what is worse, because its relevance expires on election night, it is tainted by deception .
Merv Welch, The Palms
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