On Tuesday 31 May the Illawarra Mercury printed an article indicating that David Boyle, former Labor candidate for the federal seat of Gilmore, is considering standing for election as a councillor in Shellharbour in the forthcoming September 3 elections. Mr Boyle has said that should he be elected to council he would also put his hand up for mayor.
My question is are we getting more than we bargain for out of a bloke like Mr Boyle and is what we do get the best thing for our city and its people?
One of Mr Boyle’s criteria for standing is that he gains the support of the ALP. The article goes to mention that Mr Boyle ‘was parachuted into Gilmore as Labor’s candidate in the 2010 federal election but stepped aside after a rank-and-file revolt.’
I am sure that David Boyle is a decent bloke. I wish him well.
My concern is the role of the major political parties in local government. The same article goes on the say that ‘the Mercury understands the Liberal Party will run a ticket of candidates in Shellharbour.’ So now we have the major parties putting forward their respective teams in the run up to the election. I find this odd for two reason. Firstly, the issues that define the major parties (economic policy, arbitration and foreign policy for example) are not the issues that we have to deal with at a local council level. I have no real problem with a member of the either party standing or gaining a place on council but I do have serious problems with party politics getting in the road of local governance.
There need be no ‘great divide’ between councillors on a local council. There needs to be good debate and a rigorous examination of the issues. This can be done with out the imposition of a party block were it is neither necessary nor welcome.
The previous council (the one that was sacked!) was clogged up by a Labor caucus that met separably to decide their stand on issues. Having made up their mind prior to a council meeting debate was to some degree stifled and some councillors were already committed to a decision prior to open debate. This is not the way a local council needs to run. Heaven forbid that we get both major parties sitting on our council and thereby creating a divide that does not need to be there. This will in no way serve the best interests of the city or its people.
It is time that we break the influence of party politics in our Local Council and elect a council representative of the whole community who serve the community not the party. Leave party politics to the place where it belongs – the state and federal arenas.