Thursday, October 23, 2008

Brumby moves to muzzle councillors

In yesterday's edition of The Age, ('Personal issues vote ban', p.1, 22/10), Kate Lahey and Jason Dowling write about Councillor conflict of interest laws set to go before the Victorian Upper House. The laws are an attack on democracy and must be rejected.

If, as Lahey and Dowling identify, some earlier expressions of their views may preclude Councillors voting on an issue because of deemed conflict of interest, it stands to undermine the legitimate democratic reasons candidates campaign to be elected – that is, because they have policies they believe will benefit the people they would represent in the Council Chamber.

The laws should instead target the hidden, and sometimes financial, motives that might influence a Councillor's vote – fertile ground, I should think, for Minister Wynne's reforming zeal.

It is this distinction - between having views on an issue and a pecuniary interest in it - that was picked up in today's excellent Age editorial. There were also many well argued letters to the editor published in today's edition (Scroll down the letters page to 'What's good for the goose...').

How telling that John Brumby's undemocratic proposal comes just as community candidates and reform by the Victorian Electoral Commission are challenging Labor's power base in Councils such as Darebin in November's elections. While Parliament will decide on these laws, Darebin residents should ask Council candidates their views on this important issue, and vote accordingly.

Back to my campaign website

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