Councillor Eligibility Debate

Councillor Karress Rhodes

Councillor Karress Rhodes JP

 

 

 

At the Council Meeting of the 12th of December 2018 a Notice of Motion was before Council to debate the eligibility of persons to be elected to Council. The original Motion was:

 

Motion:                 Moved: Clr Hadchiti             Seconded: Clr Kaliyanda  

That Council:

  1. Write to State Local Government Minister and the Opposition Local Government Minister Government requesting changes to the Local Government Act in order to ensure that a person wishing to nominate for a particular Council area must either be a resident or a rate payer;
  2. Request the support of organisations such as but not limited to WSROC and LGNSW to lobby for changes as above; and
  3. Have suitable qualifications such as the Local Government Director’s Course or be compelled to enroll in such course in the first year of their first term.

Foreshadowed Motion: Moved: Clr Rhodes    Seconded: Clr Harle

That Council:

  1. Write to State Local Government Minister and the Opposition Local Government Minister Government requesting changes to the Local Government Act in order to ensure that a person wishing to nominate for a particular Council area must either:
    1. Be either a rate payer, resident, or operate a business within the LGA and be registered on the residential or non-residential roll for the LGA in which they wish to stand.
    2. Have suitable qualifications such as the Local Government Director’s Course or be compelled to enroll in such course in the first year of their first term;
    3. Must not miss any more than 3 Council Committees and or Council meetings in succession without providing reasonable cause or be asked to resign; and
    4. Ask the Government to consider whether we should have Real Estate Agents or Developers as Councillors.
  2. Request the support of organisations such as but not limited to WSROC and LGNSW to lobby for changes as above.

It did seem like a personal attack against me as  I was singularly mentioned during the address by the mover for the motion.
So to answer why the mover of the motion chose to address me by name during  his address I would say;

  • Yes it is true that I was chosen to represent a Liverpool business that has operated in Liverpool for approximately over 50 years, because the owner of that business is overseas most of the time and is unable to vote in the Liverpool LGA area.
  • And it is true that I live approximately less than 500 metres as the crow flies outside the Liverpool LGA boarder but the business I represent is inside the LGA.
  • But if you consider why I was selected to represent that business it was because,
    • I have been in business in Liverpool perhaps longer than the mover of the motion passed at Council, has been alive.
    • I have served on the Boards of three distinguished Liverpool organisations during that time.
  • I have produced a Community Lifestyle magazine that serves all the Community groups in Liverpool for near on ten years and provides a communication platform for their services, social groups, and clubs, it helps to give them a voice in Liverpool. It promotes Liverpool. To produce such a magazine you have to be a part of the very fabric that makes up Liverpool.
  • I accepted to represent the business in the Liverpool LGA because I am passionate about Liverpool. I stand as a proud Independent Councillor who will make decisions based on what the voice of the Community believes is in the best interest of Liverpool. I would hope the people of Liverpool would want such people with a proven dedication to Liverpool to represent them on Council.

I am currently lawfully entitled to stand as a Liverpool Councillor. I have great respect for the Law and would always abide by whatever the Laws are in the future.

I know that of greater concern to the constituents is if it is appropriate for Real Estate Agents and or Developers to be entitled be Councillors so that question formed part of my foreshadow motion because In 2016 Liverpool City Councillors who are real estate agents and or developers were required to stand down from serving on any Government Planning Panels as Councillor representatives because of the perceived pecuniary interest in opportunity to profit from  the planning decisions they might make whilst serving on those panels.

That being the case it does beg us to wonder why the same Councillors are still permitted to make zoning decisions at Council where they might have the same perceived pecuniary interest and opportunity to profit.

I think the motion adopted by Liverpool Council was simplistic, hypocritical and did not address the real concerns of the Community. Yes Liverpool deserves local representation on Council. They also deserve quality Councillors who are a part of the Community they serve. I believe my credentials despite being 500 metres outside the LGA,  and representing a business that has been in Liverpool for 50 years, plus my own business in providing a platform of communication for the Liverpool community is in order and by any standards it proves I do have the credentials that shows my proven dedication to the Liverpool  community.  

The Councils adopted motion of residency is too simplistic. It would not be right to deny a business the right to choose who they want to represent their business that serves and provides employment and contributes to the local economy. That local business deserves the right to choose a representative that they have faith in to do the best for the community. It is the business that must be in the LGA, not necessarily their representative, and that is the law as it stands.

It was disappointing that although the mover of the adopted motion thought it wise to include point b) from my own foreshadow motion “that Councillors should have suitable qualifications such as the Local Government Director’s Course or be compelled to enroll in such course in the first year of their first term”;  but was not so inclined to include point d) into the adopted motion which was to “Ask the Government to consider whether we should have Real Estate Agents or Developers as Councillors”.

I believe the issue should be about quality of the Councillors, their commitment to the local area, their qualifications, their suitability and unquestionable integrity that should determine qualifying of people best to serve as Councillors more so than where they live.

I would have preferred a more mature motion that  necessitates people wishing to stand for Council should be able to show in a measurable way, a committed and dedicated history of service to the local community and must be able to demonstrate that they are a participating member of the local Community they wish to represent. A motion such as this would eliminate any imported people who have no interest in Liverpool from ever being elected and it would have reassured the constituents that the Councillors elected have their best local  interests at heart. Where people live does not deliver that same reassurance.

Cllr Karress Rhodes

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