Weekly column from Council Courier e-newsletter by CEO Greg Hallam, Friday 4 March 2016
Well, it’s a crazy election, with more mud being dispatched in all parts of the state then the recent mudslides in California. blame it on the full moon, says my partner (and former councillor) Sharon. The LGAQ said enough, issuing a media statement calling on all the rock throwers to stop. We didn’t miss anyone, giving all sides of politics a serve. We acted without fear or favour and in the interests of the councils. It is particularly galling only a month ago the Crime and Corruption Commission chair Alan MacSporran QC and I had a joint press conference calling on all candidates and their supporters to campaign 2016 clean.
Maybe someone has to be prosecuted in the near future for everyone to head the message that it’s not right to make false or misleading accusations about your political opponent or the council as whole. The LGAQ’s job is to protect and promote the virtues of local government. We don’t line up to defend the indefensible or pretend there is never a problem or two across a sector with 77 councils. $12 billion in budgets, more than $100 billion of assets and 39,000 staff. At the end of the day the LGAQ will cop what’s fair criticism of its members but no more. My guess is that one mud slinger begets another, and another and another, and soon you have a mudslide. I will have a smaller wager now that only a small bit of the mud thrown will be found to be of substance.
The bulk of it is hurled purely to inflict damage and hang the consequences for those who wear it. And despite the great advantages of social media in connecting people, it is badly abused a t election time. This abuse is most apparent at council elections, when people seem to think anything goes. Some of the stories and claims being posted from one end of the state to the other are just plain ridiculous. Content published on social media – be it blogs, Twitter or Facebook – is subject to the same defamation laws that cover content on conventional print and electronic media. I say again, it might well take some mudslinger to come a cropper through court action for the rest who want to make vile and malicious slurs to pull their collective heads in.
Election day cannot come fast enough. The community needs to be alert to those that pop up in the final weeks of campaigning carrying a big bucket of you know what to drop on the candidates and councils. Tip it on their heads I say. About a dozen mayoral races have now attracted the interest of wagering outfit Sportsbet, and there’s some interesting races amongst them.