7 November 2008
Newcastle’s Deputy Lord Mayor, Greens Cr Michael Osborne, today defended the deferral of a Lord Mayoral minute on graffiti by his councillor colleagues.
“Councillors correctly and clearly signalled that they were not prepared to rubber stamp a proposal that they had just received, involving expenditure of ratepayers’ money, and proposing actions (eg, the installation of CCTV) that had previously been rejected by council,” Cr Osborne said.
“To do so would be to abandon their duty as elected representatives,” Cr Osborne said.
Cr Osborne urged his council colleagues to maintain their focus on good governance, and not get distracted from their key responsibilities or intimidated by intemperate outbursts from elements of the local media.
“My colleagues should take heart that good governance comes out of informed, considered decision-making,” Cr Osborne said.
“New councillors especially should not feel pressured into rushing decisions when they have not been given the opportunity to understand what they involve and to consider their merits. This doesn’t always suit those who don’t have to bear the responsibility for the decisions, and who attack council without showing any appreciation for the basic principles of good governance or collaborative democracy,” Cr Osborne said.
“The same fickle pressures that will lampoon councillors one day for being indecisive, will be just as quick to berate us the next for being impulsive,” he said.
“It would be better for all involved, if local media coverage stopped inciting further graffiti attacks, and desisted from creating division where the city needs cooperation.”
Cr Osborne also called on the Lord Mayor, Cr Tate, to adopt a more collaborative style of leadership in the future.
“It’s understandable and commendable that the Lord Mayor – like other councillors – wants to do something about the problem of graffiti in the city.
“But a real leader is not a one man show, and the Lord Mayor needs to draw on the support and input of the entire chamber.”
Cr Osborne said that providing earlier notice of proposals, and more explanation and consultation on their content and context might ease the passage of any future Lord Mayoral minutes.