I think most of Darwin and Palmerston is aware of the recent action taken against the Palmerston City Council by the Local Government Minister Gerry McCarthy. Whether you agree or not with the actions taken by the minister (personally I do, buts that’s my opinion) the reality is that the Palmerston City Council failed to consult its community, failed to be transparent and failed to be fiscally responsible when acting in their roles as representatives of the Palmerston community.
Two topics came to the forefront of the NT News and neither of them discussed the major lessons that the Darwin City Council could and can learn from its own community. Firstly the combining of Council’s or the removal of Council’s altogether. The Councils as they stand currently in Australia are a Registered Body-corporate entity under the corporations act and as such have a fiduciary duty to their shareholders, the rate payer. The last referendum on the formation of Councils as a 3rd tier of Government was defeated by a 2/3rds majority.
Councils didn’t just disappear though…. Why Not?
Councils in Australia provide a number of services that the Government really just wants to outsource to someone else especially when it comes to Parks, Roads, rubbish and Rates(cost). The bonus is that Councils have a leadership and management board that are voted in democratically in this country by the people. So whether or not you agree with the creation of them, they are here, and to be quite honest even if they were voted against in a referendum they would most likely remain.
Could we combine the Councils? The Berrimah line is continuously spoken about by Territorians and the reality is if the Councils were combined in my opinion, you would see the financial and investment bigotry amplified.
Palmerston has an ever growing younger population, whilst Darwin has a much older population. The demographic differences and requirements are better served currently as separate interests. Do I foresee a change in that in the future? I honestly do, I believe that as our financial and social commitments and requirements evolve, there may come a day when the blending of the Councils makes not only good financial sense but a progressive democratic move.
The next Major topic is Public Consultation.
Darwin City council has not been immune from a failure to communicate and more importantly a failure to listen. Recently many business persons were invited to discuss the Darwin City Councils actions regarding the Growth in property crime and vandalism. The atmosphere was tense, the reporters were not allowed to report the discussions and most left feeling disgruntled and ignored.
Local personalities like Jason Hanna and many other local business people have gone on the radio to discuss their disgust.
The current Darwin City Council has a track record of a failure to consult and communicate with their electorate. The Esplanade bike lane created a loss of $,$$$,$$$, the round-about on daily street fiasco, a failure to communicate their financial discussions with the Hungry Jacks establishment and a loss of $,$$$,$$$, the Bennett Street walk way cover a failure to consult, and a cost of $$$,$$$ for a project that fails to meet its core need, environmental shelter, the proposed building of another multi-storey car parking centre when Darwin city has a high commercial vacancy rate the potential loss of $$,$$$,$$$'s.
Other Failure to communicate and consult, have lead to both positive and negative investments
Council representative pay rises
The Tickets for Clowns Fiasco (Circus tickets in exchange for reduced rental)
The Nightcliff Café ( I love it and think it was a great investment but the project was not communicated effectively to counter public anger at the lack of consultation)
The proposed eviction of the Fannie bay Equestrian Club without a progressive or consulted provision of an alternative venue and creating a potential loss of revenue and reduction of value in adjoining facilities and private properties and the health and well-being of the community.
The increasing of Car parking fines and reduction of free parking area’s thru-out the CBD.
The Decrease in Car parking fine payments from 30 days to 14 days.
The creation of a massive playground on the esplanade, with no close access to public transport or consultation with Territory Transport.
Failure to consult or discuss proposed rates increases in areas such as Cullen bay and surrounding suburbs during a building and investment boom.
Failure to consult rate payers of any reductions of rates based on revised land asset valuations in a falling market.
Current discussions on paid permits for on duty Police officers who are emergency service employees like Fire fighters and Paramedics whom provide a valuable service to the community and whose actions have a direct correlation on the risk and assessment of insurance costs etc for the council, rates payers and their customers. (This is just ignorant and miserly and shouldn’t warrant much discussion as it is not progressive, nor in the best interests of the community)
With only a few weeks candidacy preparation and several years of public consultation in roles in business, real estate, health and security, the following issues have been raised by small to medium business’s and the community –
Safety and Security
Greater Transparency and consultation and communication (online Polls, news paper polls, petitions and public forums) Greater access to Alderman.
Homelessness and shelter ( environmental protection from the elements in the CBD)
Creating or reintroducing the Tidy Town principles of the 90’s
Greater access to free parking for the public and employees in the CBD
Mental and Physical Health facilities for Old and Young (recreation Centres, walking paths, greater disability access, greater access by public transport to Public facilities and events)
Greater fiscal responsibility/ Greater investment into Progressive and cost effective projects
Continued and greater investment in Events and attractions ( Royal Darwin show, The Greek Glenti)
Greater investment and engagement with our cultural identity
Maintenance and/or upgrading of council facilities
Climate change initiatives
These were not all the issues raised but these were the main ones so far discussed with me.
As a Candidate for the Ward of Richardson, my fiduciary obligation to the community is clear, I have the responsibility to communicate the issue before the council, consult the electorate for their beliefs and requirements and create a progressive solution to meet the community needs. In this day and age with the ability to communicate through the digital era and access to the public via social media, I foresee the ability to interact becoming faster and easier than ever before.
If you wish to have your voice heard and amplified in the upcoming council, vote 1 for Sam Wilks this coming Council election on the 26th August 2017.
Written and Authorized by Sam Wilks. The views included may not be those of others mentioned in the article but are those of Sam Wilks. If you have other idea’s feel free to comment below. Idea’s and differing opinion is recognition of a free and just democratic society. A Society I am happy to live in. Please however try not to be abusive or discriminative, you may be. But if I feel that your opinion may be harmful or is reported as being harmful, I will delete it.
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Casuarina NT 0810