The Age‘s headline reads ‘Backdown on activist councillors’, in reference to the anti-democratic bill currently before the Parliament restricting the freedom of councillors to vote on matters they had previously been involved in, limiting rights of financial support for candidates, and denying voters the capacity to choose candidates committed to defending their interests.
The actual amendments have not yet been put to the Parliament, but based on Minister Richard Wynne’s media release the bill is still very unsatisfactory.
Rather than any objection to or submission on a proposal, the bill now proposes to cover only parties to a civil actions or VCAT appeals, or those who lodge objections to a planning permit. But as I argued last week, if a candidate runs on issues relating to the same subject as a civil action, VCAT appeal, or planning objection, the election victory turns the ‘private’ interest into a ‘public’ interest as well.
And there is no word about changing the absurd requirement that councillors keep complex records of who donates to them and then match them against all matters they have to decide on in council meetings.
I’m yet to hear what the Liberals will do on this bill – the Greens are still leading the fight. But I am hoping that the Liberals will come good.