Monday, 23 February 2009

Don't be SLAPPed after criticising Council Administration

Many in the community have criticisms of the Newcastle Council administration.

It is the role of your elected Councillor, as a member of the governing body
  • to direct and control the affairs of the council in accordance with this Act
  • to participate in the optimum allocation of the council’s resources for the benefit of the area
  • to play a key role in the creation and review of the council’s policies and objectives and criteria relating to the exercise of the council’s regulatory functions
  • to review the performance of the council and its delivery of services, and the management plans and revenue policies of the council.

and as your representative
  • to represent the interests of the residents and ratepayers
  • to provide leadership and guidance to the community
  • to facilitate communication between the community and the council.
(Section 232 of the Local Government Act 1993)

So when residents and ratepayers have criticisms, it is our responsibility to follow them up. Whether they are about the optimum allocation of resources, the interests of residents or ratepayers or facilitating communication between the administration and the community.

Even if they are as unpalatable as nepotism. And we've all heard those comments around town!

Council's policies must be followed no matter who is related to whom.

So, at no time should the humble elected councillor, acting in accordance with their mandate under the NSW Local Government Act 1993, shirk from their responsibility to stand up for the interests of the residents and ratepayers.

Even in the face of a SLAPP suit.

Who would have thought this could happen in Newcastle?

SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) is a lawsuit that is intended to intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition. The most famous Australian example is the GUNNS 20 case. More information can be found on wiki)

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