The Weekly Advertiser

EDITORIAL: Better to know the ‘devil’

Dean Lawson Editorial Nov 2017

‘Be careful what you wish for’. Or, perhaps, ‘better the devil you know’.
Call it being conservative, over-cautious, whatever you like. But these are thoughts that come to mind when considering the potential fall-out from the various levels of community disillusionment over local governance.
We’re seeing everything from farmers in uproar over a statewide municipal rating system to personalities, personal agendas and representation issues interfering with objective local government debate.
It has led to a fragmenting of respect and individuals in the community baying for change, some pushing hard to take important community direction out of the hands of local government.
But is that what we really want? Local government has always been the closest government to people because elected members have little choice but to metaphorically share the same footpath as the people they represent.
We could remove this system and ask the State Government to replace our councils with a bureaucratic decision-making tier, where executives are answerable only to Spring Street in Melbourne. This, while sounding efficient and seamless, is playing with fire.
Ask anyone who has escaped life under a totalitarian regime whether having people making serious and unchecked decisions about you from a distance is a good idea.
Having administrators in charge of Melbourne or even Geelong councils, nearest the seat of state power, might make sense. But it certainly fails to tick any long-term boxes in the regions.
The people who know best what’s good for their municipalities are generally the people who live, work and raise families in those municipalities.
Human nature dictates that we are never going to always agree on the best direction or plan of action, but surely we’re tough, able and grown-up enough to understand our own back yards to eventually, at least, make measured decisions. We should also be smart enough to elect the right people for decision-making roles.
Our system is far from perfect and our community governments will always need help and direction from our state and federal leaders. But we need to, in some degree, have control of our own destiny.
Yes, in some cases when getting a hodge-podge of people together to make important decisions we can create a democratic localised ‘devil’. But at least it is the devil we know.

The entire July 25, 2018 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

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Posted on Jul 25 2018

Posted by on Jul 25 2018. Filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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