OPINION: No room for political agendas in council chambers

THE Australia Day debate is a prime example of the overreach of some councils into issues and topics they have no power, influence and jurisdiction over.

The latest census results estimate the City of Yarra’s resident population is 93,380 with approximately 382 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

According to Yarra Council, more than 100 indigenous people were consulted about the changes to January 26, with results indicating the community found Australia Day celebrations “alienating, hurtful and upsetting”.

An additional independent survey looking at the views of 300 non-indigenous people in Yarra were “also supportive” of the change.

However, local residents in the inner-north eastern council area are reportedly divided about the decision.

Using a survey to base a decision on from a pool of less than 400 people in an area of more than 90,000 people is breathtakingly disconnected from ratepayers.

Four Greens councillors sit on the Yarra council and it must be remembered the social justice party’s policy includes changing the date of Australia Day.

Moves by some elected members and councils to advance their own politically motivated agendas do not belong in the chamber.

There is a reason why the three Rs of council – roads, rates and rubbish – do not include reconciliation.

It is a federal and state government issue and should be addressed accordingly.

Any greater change to the date of Australia Day is not going to be solved by local mayors, elected members or council staff.

While there is no doubt it is important for councils to lobby beyond the three Rs, communities do not elect civic leaders to hear morally virtuous monologues or their activism – we elect them to get on with their core business.

If councillors and mayors want to be discussing Australia’s pressing social issues and whether to change the date of our national day, they should stand for state or federal parliament.

Liberal Senator Eric Abetz said it best with his “councils are elected to collect rubbish, not talk rubbish”.

Keep our rates low, fix the potholes and leave the social commentary to other tiers of government.