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Ratepayers deserve to hear from the councillors

IF you have ever wondered how Banana Shire's new councillors thought the past 12 months in office have gone, don't bother asking them yourself.

In what is a ridiculous policy, individual councillors are prohibited from making public comment, and if our gagged councillors have a message to share, it has to be delivered from the mouth of the mayor.

On Friday, April 24, Central Telegraph contacted the six councillors and the mayor, asking them: what they personally thought was the council's greatest achievement over the past 12 months; what each councillor's biggest individual achievement was; and what areas they thought council needed to focus on over the next few years.

Some councillors provided their responses; some responded by stating they would talk with the mayor and CEO because they did not think they were allowed to make such comments; others did not respond at all.

A fortnight later council issued a statement advising Central Telegraph that under council policy, individual councillors could not comment and that a statement would be issued by the mayor.

This disturbed me and on Monday, May 11, I let council know my feelings on the subject.

I am extremely disappointed that councillors are “gagged” from talking to the public.

Ratepayers did not elect the entire council.

They voted for the individual candidate in their division that they deemed would do the best job based on the promises they made during their campaign.

Ratepayers would like to hear from the candidate they elected.

What might be important for the Division 2 councillor and his constituents may not be as important to the Division 6 councillor and his constituents.

For example, has the councillor in Division 1 been able to deliver on his election promises? And if not, why not?

Ratepayers don't want the delegated talking head to deliver a scripted response on behalf of the entire council.

But that is exactly what I received on Wednesday morning - a response from the mayor outlining council's successes over the past 12 months.

This response took more than five weeks to piece together, compared to the individual responses I received in April, which were filed in a couple of days.

State and Federal politicians talk to the public about issues that are affecting their constituents in the area they are elected to represent, so why don't councillors?

This is not a dictatorship. he mayor should not have absolute control over councillor comment.


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