'Council does listen'
Re: Council caves in to levy. SHN June 5
Firstly I would like to thank all those who have shown their commitment to the integrity of the Environment Levy. It is heartening to see such passion and diligence in our community.
20 years on and it gives me goosebumps to see that the real value of the levy is still inspiring such passion and compassion.
The announcement by the mayor at the public meeting on the May 31, that an alternate model for funding council's commitment to the Regional Art Gallery is being put forward for consideration is "heartening".
When I led the charge on council for the introduction of the levy over 20 years ago, it was line ball to get the majority support from councillors of the day to say the least.
I remember it well and still have some bruises from the battle.
Eventually, with a great deal of community support and tenacity, the value of the environment began to awaken in the hearts of fellow councillors and as of this year actually, we now have an Environment levy "in perpetuity".
Some of those people who were strong advocates from the beginning like Jane Lemann have again exhibited such commitment that council will have to reconsider the real value of the levy and the commitment of council to "invest into the protection, preservation and restoration of our natural environment".
The way I see it this win for people power is one that see's not only the integrity of the levy honoured, but also council's commitment to the Regional Gallery maintained.
This, in my opinion, is not an act of "caving in" or a "back flip". It is a sign that council's process of consultation is fair dinkum and is an effective.
The draft budget is just that. It remains a "Draft" until resolved differently.
In my opinion this is a Win/Win for the environment and for the artistic development of this shire.
Council has been tested and I believe that after the adoption of the Operational Plan and Budget on Wednesday evening, It will have proven that the system works.
And more importantly, that council does listen.
Clr Larry Whipper
Chair Environment and Sustainability Committee
Chair Arts and Culture Committee
Good news for the 'democratic process'
Thank you for helping to make people aware of council's promise to protect the Environment Levy for the time being.
I was a bit disappointed in your use of the headline "Council Caves To Levy".
It makes it sound like the Environment Levy is some wacko special interest group and that council had been spineless in giving in to its demands.
This couldn't be further from the truth which is that council put forward a proposal to redirect funds from the Environment Levy to a non-environmental enterprise; the community overwhelmingly spoke out against such a proposal and in favour of protecting the Environment Levy for enhancing our natural ecosystems; in response to this, council listened and changed their proposal.
This is a good story about the democratic process working the way it is supposed to work and should have been heralded with the headline "Council Listens to Community and Promises to Protect Environment Levy... For Now".
Regarding the "For Now" bit... it is now up to council and the community to ensure that the Environment Levy remain protected into the future and does not get raided or white-anted away by future councils.
The community has put forward a motion to that effect which will hopefully be passed at the council meeting on June 12.
On behalf of the community and the ecosystems of the shire I would like to thank council for listening and promising to protect our Environment Levy... for now.