An inquirer writes…


I got an email recently from someone who had read the blog and some of the newspaper articles I have been quoted in.  It was an encouraging letter and I am glad  to have received it.  There were a  few questions that the writer had of me and I though if one person is asking them there are probably others who would similar if not the same questions.  I thought it good to answer them for all to see as well as respond to my enquirer.

To straighten a couple of things out from the outset.  My Gmail is somewhat misleading, but not intentionally of course.
It is revdrbrian@gmail.com  however I am neither a Rev nor  Dr.  I am a pastor though.  It was originally done as a bit of a lark and it has just stuck.  Having created the Google identity with that address I am sort of stuck with it now.  My other blog makes that plain.  I suppose I need to put a similar disclaimer on this blog too!

My encourager sees councillors as being agents of truth or transparency.  Councillors have a larger role that that.  The role is worked out in two basic areas; 1 governance – directing and controlling the affairs of the council in accordance with the Local Government Act, and 2 representing the interests of residents and rate payers.  Both of these functions need to be done with transparency.

In terms of transparency, every council is required to make information readily available under the Government Information Public Access Act.  There are no ands, ifs or buts about it.

While information may be readily available the process of decision making can be a  different matter.  I will be doing my best to keep the process of decision making above board.  I am hopeful that this will be an easy and minor job!

The Mayor will be elected from among the seven councillors by those seven counsellors.  This has been a  disappointing decision to some as many in the city would have liked the opportunity to democratically elect the mayor at the ballot box.  For whatever reason that is not to be the case on this occasion.  The incoming council can ask the people of Shellharbour what we want to do next time and put it to the State Government to make those changes.

I am running on a  ticket of four.  The way the ballot is structured it would be very difficult for a stand-alone candidate to get in (unless they had a very large support base).  As it stands, there are three such candidates.  Their names will be under each other in the far right column of the ballot paper.  They have no number above the line and can only be voted for below the line.

To form a group you to have a  group of at least two.  To go the next step and get a number above the line a group needed to have four.  I had originally thought that I would  be brave and go it alone, however it soon became apparent that if I was going to have a serious go at being elected I needed a  number above the line and, therefore, I needed three friends.   So it is not really a case of my team against other teams but above the line verses below the line.  Statistically, above the line wins every time!

My running mates are:

Joanna Combe.  Joanna is 22 and currently studying at TAFE.  She volunteers for State Emergency Service and is a member of the ‘Gullibles’ theatre group.  Joanna was also part of the community consultation that took place towards the end of last year.   Joanna brings a young person’s perspective to the team.

Keith Robinson.  Is a local resident, husband and father.  He owns and operates his own business in Wollongong.  He has a keen interest in Scripture Union and supports their work very generously.

David Cholson.  David is the business manager of  Shellharbour Anglican College.  He too is a husband and father.  He has worked in both the public and private sector mostly in administration and finance. He has a Masters in Science majoring in plant ecology.  He was also on the Community Consultation.  He is a very active member of the Shellharbour City Anglican Church.

The process of electing councillors to local government is as transparent as a process can be.  If there is any obscurity about it, or apparent obscurity, it comes from the candidates themselves.  In fact the process to be followed for this election is significantly different from previous elections in that we no longer have wards, we have seven rather than the previous twelve councillors and the mayoral position is chosen by the elected councillors.  These changes were made by the current State Government.  The changes themselves were not out of the ordinary in tat there are a number of other councils that operate under these parameters.

The changes were introduced following the sacking of the previous council due to their dysfunctionality.  You can read more about it here.  Some of the changes were made to level the playing-field somewhat to allow a broader based representation on council beyond that of the major political parties.   There is a groundswell of public opinion that party politics has no place in local government.  The changes make that more of a possibility and the number of Independents standing reflects how real that possibility is.

As to my future intentions, I have no aspirations to join any political party ( I doubt that they would have me!).  As has already been mentioned, for many of us, myself included, we see no place for party politics in local government.  I have no desire to change my opinion on that.  Of course that is not to say that the Labor or Liberal candidates are in anyway unworthy or unable to do the job.  It is to say that in the past political parties have brought division into council and contributed to the dysfunction that lead to the sacking.  Whoever gets on council must be willing to work with whoever else gets on council no matter what their political allegiance is at the state or federal level.

As to my being a  wolf in sheep’s clothing, you had best ask those who know me.

My poetically titled blog has nothing to do with political or religious imagery or metaphor.  A quick glance across the content will dispel any fears of ‘reds under the bed’ and I chose to stay clear of religious images not because I am ashamed of my faith but, more simply, because they are mostly misunderstood by most of my neighbours and therefore a bit alienating .  The phrase ‘fetch me my red shirt‘ is drawn from a tale of courage in the face of danger and leadership under fire.

I trust that this answers some of the questions some people may have about me, the team and the values we hold.  If there are any more questions please don’t hesitate to ask.  I am just a  click away!!

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About Brian Pember

Warilla, NSW, Australia View all posts by Brian Pember

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