IN HIS Mayor’s Message of February 14, Bass Coast Mayor Cr Michael Whelan writes: “Modern Councils are charged with responsibilities that go beyond the traditional three Rs: Roads, Rates and Rubbish”.
He wrote that last year he joined 38 mayors from across Australia to sign a joint statement in support of the Indigenous Voice to Parliament. There are 537 councils in Australia so this represents around 7% of all Australian councils. Obviously the other 93% have seen the sense in staying out of it.
He goes on to write: “Local government must play an important role in holding civic forums, promoting dialogue, and providing a platform for all voices to be heard.”
Okay, Cr Whelan. What platform are you providing for my voice to be heard? When did the council provide a platform for the residents of Bass Coast to be heard on this matter? In the Sentinel Times of February 2, 2023, the question was asked: “How did Bass Coast support the Voice?”? How did Council make this decision?
A lot of people want to know the answer. According to the Sentinel Times, it was a captain’s call - in other words Cr Whelan deemed it appropriate that this council support his political views.
The Sentinel Times records that Cr Whelan also noted local support for the Voice at the recent citizenship ceremony. He is wrong. There is little or no support for the Voice in the rural communities of Bass Coast. And how dare he put his own political views over during a ceremony like Australia Day!
Why vote No? Here are a few reasons:
- If our democratically elected government makes a decision without “listening to the Voice”, they will wind up in court. Our Australian parliamentary system will get bogged down.
- The dangerous and divisive Voice will exert a political – and legal – power unlike anything ever seen before in our nation.
- Do you really think extremists like Lidia Thorpe will be satisfied by Anthony Albanese’s Voice? No, this is only the start of the slippery slope. Non-indigenous will be forced to pay rent taxes, reparations, and more national park lockouts will just be the tip of the iceberg! So 97% of the rest of us will have to cough up - up goes the cost of living again!
Can we, the people, have a voice as well? If you in council support a voice, maybe we ratepayers can have a voice in the Shire decisions. Perhaps our selected delegates (unelected) can have a voice to every council decision that is made. Does that sound fair? And if you don’t agree with this, does that make us ratepayers second class citizens because you would disagree with our thoughts and opinions?
What is needed are practical measures, not an ideal that lacks detail and divides us along the lines of race. Personally I support immediate frontline action to address issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, recognising and addressing the immense challenges affecting many Indigenous communities, including family violence, poor health care, substance abuse, risks to child safety, poor education outcomes, poor housing and unemployment. Similar confronting issues are happening here in Bass Coast.
Every time I hear Cr Whelan talk about the Voice, I will strongly advocate for the “No” vote. I believe that as the Mayor of this Shire he has no right to force his opinions on the residents who live here. It is not a council issue. We should not be divided by race, greed or the empty politics of tokenism.