The very essence and appeal of local and grass roots representation as a Councillor has been challenged over the past few weeks.
Our role as Councillors is challenged by increased politicisation. As Councillors we are here to represent residents and rate payers, and to apply the principles of good governance and make decisions on matters that we have remit over.
I believe we are most effective when we focus on items that are in our domain. BUT political distractions are constantly looming, and increasingly lead to division rather than building our city, suburbs and small towns to be well planned, resilient, cohesive and better for today and future generations.
A community that I would like to specifically acknowledge is the town of Heathcote. There has not been a week gone by since being elected that I haven’t been contacted by resident, invited to event or had an idea flagged with me by a community member in matters within our remit. Heathcote continues to demonstrate it “Waits For No Cavalry”.
Heathcote is a township not without challenges. But their challenges are more often than not overcome by great grass root ideas and passionate hard work by an ever increasing and dedicated movement of community members (old and new) in town. Their focus might be different but they all have one thing in common, they love their town and being an active part of its future.
I honestly think that there is very little that can stop Heathcote, unless of course as a Council we reduce our focus on our great rural towns.
Every time we blur the lines between the tiers of government I believe we put our effectiveness at risk
We risk our effectiveness for towns like Heathcote.
I respect and value that as Australian’s we have three tiers of government that are tasked to do a job. We have different roles and for good reason. I will ensure that as a Councillor I focus on the decisions that apply to Local Government.
Doing any else just diminishes our effectiveness and delivers less for our community.
Each time we cross over into areas that are not Local Government, we risk making our level of government less relevant. As a council we don’t appreciate undue influence from the State or Federal spaces, so I believe the reverse also applies.
With the profound erosion of trust in governments worldwide, we have a critical role in rebuilding this trust with our communities and this can only be achieved when we focus on our mandate.
Changing the definition of Marriage is a federal government responsibility. Council does not have an legislative powers to amend the Marriage Act or make a decision regarding who should be able to marry whom. Therefore, I don't believe this debate is something that our council should enter into.
When desires or concerns emerge in our communities and ratepayers DO NOT have a voice or a chance to participate democratically in, I guarantee that my effort will be front and centre into understanding the perspectives and views in order to perform my role as Councillor most effectively to represent them.
Each and everyone of our community has the opportunity to exercise their democratic ‘muscle’ over the coming weeks and have their say in the marriage equality postal survey. Personally, I will be voting yes.
What else is happening?
Eppalock Ward Councillors Listening Post ‘Meet your Councillors, Have Your Say’ Strathfieldsaye & District Community Enterprise Carnival, Sunday 22 October 2017 10 - 2pm.
The next Council meeting is on Wednesday October 18, 2017 at 6pm at the Bendigo Town Hall, perhaps I might see you there? Or you can tune in via the live broadcast on Phoenix FM 106.7.
Yvonne Wrigglesworth is a Councillor in the Eppalock Ward, City of Greater Bendigo Council.