Strathfield, take a bow!

A Sydney Sunday newspaper recently claimed in a leading article about Saturday’s poll for councillors that it was “ A complete waste of time and money”.

The Sunday Telegraph called for reform, and suggested the O’Farrell government “re-draw the boundaries and set up a system that actually works for the people and the state”.

The paper cited the Sydney Business Chamber’s push to cut the state’s 152 councils.  In particular, it suggests 10 “super” councils to run Sydney.

In support, it maintained low voter turnout and a plethora of interest groups demonstrated a system that has broken down.

Well,  the weekend turnout and a very civilised campaign about ideas rather than political rhetoric ought to show The Sunday Telegraph that, in Strathfield at least, local government is alive and well.

The debate over the future of councils has been fuelled by former Premier Nick Greiner, presently head of Infrastructure NSW. He claims the system is “about 100 years out of date”.

The amalgamation issue is a hot one for Strathfield residents, who fought off a bid to combine councils over a decade ago by putting up red ribbons around the LGA.

It is an echo of this campaign which Strathfield First, the group led by Helen McLucas and which featured Mayor and councillor Paul Barron on its ticket, has been running since the start of the electoral process.

Yet when Strathfield residents went to the polls, they were able to count themselves extremely lucky.  The candidates on their ballot papers are sensible, sane and, by-in-large, good custodians of ratepayers’ money and democracy.

The same cannot be said for all councils.  But that is no reason to conclude that the entire system is broken, or that creating monolithic authorities like the City of Sydney will lead to better democracy and local management.

It is true, as the Sunday Telegraph points out, that many residents don’t vote in local elections and know little about the issues. But that is not the fault of those who are running.

And the weekend showing in Strathfield, where spring sunshine brought a busy day at the booths, shows that in some sensible LGAs good government has brought a sense of obligation and participation.

Citizens bear their own responsibility to make informed decisions.  If they end up with councillors who run their chambers as if they are asylums for the insane, they only have themselves to blame.

The candidates in Strathfield fought strong campaigns around the many important issues the municipality has to cope with in the coming four years and beyond.

City status, a poll conducted alongside the elections, also showed that Strathfield thought about the issue and produced a good result.

Those elected won’t be paid a fortune. Indeed, the perks are less than those afforded to the average travelling salesman.

As for the Sunday Telegraph’s claims – Strathfield showed that newspaper how wrong they are by demonstrating that, in at least one area of Sydney, residents care enough to play their part in getting the best representatives they can on their council.

Strathfield, take a bow!


Comments

This article can only prove that there are talks in our State Liberal Government that we are all threatened by amalgamation.

Strathfield First being an Independant Group can support and help residents wishes and not have to follow Party Politics. Unfortunately Liberal and Labour representatives will have to follow party lines.

As a Liberal voter, I will be voting Independants to try and save Strathfield. We did it last time and we will do it again.

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