Corrupt means changing something from a sound situation to an unsound one or changing a system to defeat its purpose, often from within.

In a representative democracy, the people’s elected representatives are intended to take the disparate views of their electorate forward so that decision makers are informed of the electorate’s various requirements.

Given that the electorate is expected to pay for everything, this seems entirely reasonable. It is also an important element in assuring that as many needs as possible are considered when decisions are taken or policies are made.

The Launceston City Council, long criticised for its parochial attitudes, has recently been locked in attempts to control, or criticise the popularly elected Mayor, Janie Dickenson, for abstaining from voting in the matter of the proposed Gunns pulp mill upwind of the city, leaking information to the press and generally making accusations.

The essence of their criticisms is that once a majority of council supports an issue, then all other members should (?) go along with the majority decision. Such a view is nonsense, what many have come to expect from the self-proclaimed ‘old guard’, who defy both logic and the theory of evolution.

Legally there is no requirement for the Mayor, or any other council member, to agree with a majority vote, if this were not the case then all votes would always be unanimous. Neither is such agreement common practice except in political party rooms or among paid employees, it’s just another device to attack the Mayor.

Her bombastic critics

More worrying is the fact that the criticism centres on the Mayor’s abstention from voting, in other words she is taking a neutral position. She has explained clearly that she needs more information about the project prior to making a decision. And why not? What’s the hurry?

Yet despite numerous letters supporting the Mayor’s neutral position, her bombastic critics continue to attempt to force the Mayor to adopt their position of unqualified support of the project ‘from the outset’. As ever, the critics don’t realise that they are merely revealing their own ignorance and prejudices in their attacks.

In Council meetings the more sanctimonious aldermen frequently claim “I think I speak for the majority when I say…” yet they have no meetings, no forums, no surveys nor any other mechanism to determine what their mythical majority actually wants. Instead their behaviours indicate that they believe that they define the public interest, in other words they vote and it’s up to the public to go along with their view.

The ‘old guard’ and others who attempt to manipulate our government systems to their own ends are corrupting our system of democracy. There are Council elections coming up in October for Launceston … it’s time we had council members who actually listen to the electorate and are intelligent enough to understand that there is a distribution of viewpoints in the real world.

Meanwhile, you might want to support the Mayor whenever you think she’s doing the right thing by the community.

Laurie MacDonald lives in Launceston