Why are we tarred with the one brush?

I recently read with interest an article regarding local government councils contained in the Adelaide Advertiser titled ‘Its your money, you have a right to know where its going’.

This opinion piece although largely directed at metropolitan councils and councillors, could be wrongly interpreted as applying to all councils.

The article began by asking, ‘….why would those seeking election want to give up their time for little money, mostly spent on listening to busybody whingers on the phone or going to school art shows.…’

The opinion piece provided a rundown on the people you find on every council: the political aspirant; the pensioned-off stalwart; the single issue aggrieved; the bludger; the good guy.

The writer then states ‘…take a look at your council and I guarantee they are all there…’ and continued to review the Renumeration Tribunal’s allocation of councillors’ allowances highlighting the mayors of four large city councils, including Onkaparinga. 

You might say “whats so wrong with this?”

Well, apart from the profiles being offensive to those who serve in local government other statements are largely misleading as this article talks about just a few metropolitan councils.

There are a total of 68 councils in SA, with 49 in the regional and rural areas of the state and these profiles certainly don’t reflect their make up.

I am unqualified to comment on what occurs within metropolitan councils, however have had considerable experience in outback, rural, and my own regional council and how they operate and the type of members they attract in general. 

Lets start with the headline ‘It’s your money…..’ and I could safely say you wouldn’t do it for the money.  For example I do not enjoy a council car, use my own mobile phone and our councillor’s allowances are nowhere near our city counterparts.

The more disturbing features of this article was the content of the councillor profiles and the categories mentioned.  

Most take interest in listening to local residents and don’t regard them as busy bodies, or whingers. They are ratepayers and as councillors we represent them and work on their behalf.

I believe the profiles of the five categories of people attracted to council according to the writer is a long way from fact and there is certainly no evidence of this type of person or associated behaviours currently at Light Regional Council.

I am confident I speak for most of my country colleagues in responding to what I believe is an unbalanced article by expressing these views and sticking up for the dedication and commitment of the many councillors I have  had the pleasure to have worked with.

Long live the whingers and busybodies without which we wouldn’t have a job…

To all those community-minded people aspiring to be councillors do not let this or another negative article stop you from nominating, but you had better hurry as nominations close on September 18.