There has recently been a shift in the balance of power within Council, with the deputy mayor taking over most of the mayor’s functions. This has come about because our elected mayor Jan Barham is also a state Greens MLC.
At the last meeting she attended, she pointed out that she still works actively and tirelessly on Council matters such as policy, and continues to put forward possibly more motions and amendments than anyone else. She was clearly spruiking her abilities to do both jobs.
Mayor Barham asked her fellow councillors to move three meetings to another Thursday to accommodate her new timetable. However, when it came to a vote in her absence, her request was denied, leaving deputy mayor Basil Cameron in the chair, thus giving the independent the mayor’s casting vote.
It appears so far that this new majority will be voting to exclude her if they can, which may mean they can continue to deny her the right to attend future meetings.
The irony, as Greens Cr Tabart pointed out to The Echo this week, is that ‘Cr Cameron only got the deputy mayor gig because Jan was away and now he is voting to keep her away.’
And as Cr Tabart says in his letter to The Echo this week, the resulting voting has lurched this Council somewhat to the right; policies may have had a different flavour had she been there to vote.
This is exemplified by this week’s draft markets policy, which attempts essentially to privatise a community asset, and gives no provisions to the Community Centre management that uses stall holder fees to provide wages to its staff. It is no secret that many councils financially assist their community centres; ours does not.
Additionally the draft policy does not adequately protect local hand-made industries nor promote local food producers.
The Echo laments our councillors’ unwillingness to give our elected mayor the opportunity to continue her mayoral duties, and to prove to the community she can hold down both jobs.
Will this behaviour continue until Council elections next year?