There has been some intense discussion in the media, particularly the Herald-Sun on 14/06, referencing Monash Council dealing with the possibility of recognising a conflict between the Armenian / Greeks and the Turkish in the times of the Ottoman Empire as a genocide. There have also been articles that have appeared in the Leader Newspaper, Neos Kosmos and a number of radio interviews and online conversations.
My response to all of these publications has been as follows: I have spoken to both Councillors and advised them that I will not be supporting any moves to bring this matter before Council. This is an issue for the Federal Government and not a local Council. Those Councillors that feel strongly about this issue should take it up with their Federal MP. We should be concentrating on roads, playgrounds and garbage collections and not dividing our Community on matters that are outside of our control.
Earlier this year, I spoke out in the Chamber against, and voted down, attempts to have Council deal with Asylum seeker abuses and a review in to investment exposures to fossil fuels. This is not because I do not believe in either of these issues, but rather that I believe that these matters are matters that should be dealt with by the Federal Parliament, and not by a local Council. My personal view on these topics is largely irrelevant.
There was also another motion that was brought to Council earlier in the year attempting to tackle the topic of Marriage Equality. My official statement on this particular issue can be found in another article on this page, and many of the points that I outlined in that statement relating to Council dealing with broader issues, also apply to this situation.
Whenever these issues are raised, proponents always respond with the argument that part of our charter is to advocate on behalf of our residents, but where does that line start and finish? Generally speaking, my personal rule of thumb when deciding whether advocating on an issue is within the realms of our Council, is the answer to the following questions:
- Does the situation relate directly to the operations of Council?
- Will it have an impact on the general amenity within Monash?
- Is there a financial impact on residents or ratepayers of Monash?
- Does it affect a resident of Monash any more than it would affect a resident of Glen Eira, Kingston, Knox etc.
The answer to all of those questions, in regards to this issue, is a resounding no. Therefore, I consider that it is not appropriate to come before Council for consideration.
Accordingly, I am extremely disappointed in the actions of a couples of Councillors, who, through their actions, have brought the entire existence of Local Government in to question. We have processes in place that allow Councillors to raise matters for debate in the Chamber and this is always the preferable method for carrying out debate rather than via the media. I have spoken to many of my colleagues at the City of Monash, and the majority do not support this issue being dealt with. Therefore, criticisms that Monash Council is going outside of its boundaries of responsibilities and calls to disband Local Government altogether are baseless and without merit.
At the City of Monash, we have a brilliant Chief Executive Officer, who, along with her leadership team and workforce of more than 1000 people, live, breathe and bleed for Monash and its brand. Day in, day out, they are out in the community speaking to residents and formulating strategic direction to achieve the best possible results for our residents and our community. They take immense pride in being associated with the great City of Monash and I am extremely disappointed for them that incidents such as this reflect badly on the brand that they have dedicated years, and sometimes lifetimes, to build.
This week has been one of the most disappointing weeks of my short time on Council, and I sincerely hope that it is not indicative of the time remaining of this term of Council.