Having attended the two recent Inverloch community meetings to hear Bass Coast Shire Council’s attempt to justify its recommendation to close the Inverloch transfer station, I am both heartened and disappointed.
I am heartened because the community has told the council in very clear and certain language that it does not want the transfer station closed. At each meeting community members asked many valid questions, and offered a variety of alternatives that the council has not previously considered.
Our current councillors now have no alternative but to vote to reject the closure of the transfer station.
Should they do otherwise, they will be flying in the face of the community’s will.
And yet whilst I am heartened by the community’s clear expression of its wishes, at the same time I am disappointed, because of what took place during the second community session.
What I observed at that second meeting was nothing less than an abject suppression of democracy by a local government representative.
And most alarmingly of all, that suppression of democracy was perpetrated by none less than the current Mayor of Bass Coast Shire, Cr Crugnale.
As the community questions drew to a finale, I attempted to point out to the Mayor, and to the assembled community members, pretty much what I’ve stated above i.e. councillors now have no choice but to reject the recommendation.
However, Cr Crugnale refused to let me speak.
Several community members urged her to continue the discussion so that I could be heard. However, Cr Crugnale refused to allow it.
Then another community member called for a show of hands for me to be heard. The result was as near to a unanimous show of hands as you could get.
But Cr Crugnale was determined that I not be heard.
The gathering was aghast when the Mayor then made a comment about the gathering descending into a mob, before she walked away to a distant corner of the room, effectively shutting down further community discussion.
I am alarmed at this undemocratic behaviour being displayed by an elected representative of our community.
Such behaviour is Orwellian in its authoritarianism.
At the first community meeting former councillor Ross Smith described council’s behaviour as akin to that of a dictatorship.
Having witnessed and been subjected to this outrageous suppression of democracy, I am now in full agreement with Mr Smith.
But, regardless of the petulance displayed by Cr Crugnale, I would like to thank the many community members who approached me after the meeting to express their encouragement and support of my efforts to bring more accountability to the council.
Later this month I’ll be hosting a public meeting that will outline various issues that are causing widespread concern among our community.
The meeting will be held on Saturday, July 30, commencing at 2pm.
The venue is the Kirrak Room at the Wonthaggi Workmen’s Club, 75 Graham Street, Wonthaggi.
I look forward to seeing you there.
Kevin Griffin, Wonthaggi.