Should the council take three months to decide on one day?

BALLARAT’S new councillors might wonder just what they’ve done to deserve to have the vexed issue of the November public holiday thrust upon them just a few weeks into their new term.

It only seems like yesterday that debate over this year’s date concluded, with a decision to denote Show Day winning support.

Now, there is a suggestion that the new council should undertake a three-month consultation period to determine whether Melbourne Cup Day or Show Day should be designated this year.

We are all for consultation but three months seems absurd, particularly when the issue has been debated and re-debated since the switch of the Ballarat Cup to a Sunday two years ago.

Commerce Ballarat has mobilised its membership in the past two weeks putting forward a strong case for the new council to reconsider the proposal.

Its case about economic impact is relevant and understandable.

The show relies heavily on the Friday holiday to attract families. It becomes a much smaller event without public holiday status.

It’s one of those issues where it is impossible to please everyone. And that’s even more reason why undertaking a drawn-out consultation process is unlikely to provide a black and white solution. 

The debate provides a distraction – although judging by the poll results on The Courier’s website yesterday there is considerable interest – from what business and the agricultural society should be concentrating on, and that is better experiences for shoppers and show patrons.

There is much at stake on both sides of the argument.

The council, if it concludes that a significant consultation period is required, should provide enough evidence to make not only a decision for 2013 but beyond as well.

Having a concrete stance for future years would ensure that all parties could develop strategies around the outcome.

Tonight’s council meeting concludes a year of significant change for our municipal leadership – yet some of the issues don’t change.

We’ll be looking forward to tonight’s debate as much for how the new councillors deal with the issues as for what outcome will be produced, as suggested, later next year.

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