Politics interfering with local government
I believe like many in our community that party politics has no role in local government.
Based on this belief, I was a candidate for the recent council election, with the clear view and commitment that local government elections must be distant from party politics and be fundamentally about our community. A bipartisan Council that has the community's best interests at the forefront is essential for Ballarat's progress.
I found out yesterday that this is not the case according to the standards of the Australian Labor Party. On Wednesday I was advised that I had been expelled as a member of the Australian Labor Party due to my support for my friend and now Mayor, Cr Samantha McIntosh, a member of the Liberal Party.
I bear no ill will towards the Labor Party for its decision, and I wish it and the members of the party the best. I am proud to have genuine friends and associates who come from all walks of life, and Sam is one of them who provides the richness of real engagement and independent thinking.
In saying that, it is my opinion that my expulsion was punishment for my outspoken views on the state government's poorly conceived proposal to build a hotel at the Ballarat Rail Precinct and the flawed Eureka Stadium project. Commercial development is a role for the private sector, not a Labor government.
I have attempted to raise these issues with our local member and the Labor Government but have been met with a wall of silence. How can we get a governing party's policy changed when local members won't even meet with the community?
Unlike our Federal member, Catherine King, who travels the electorate and engages with all the community, our local state members do not talk to anyone with a divergent viewpoint.
What has happened to inclusion, fairness and a fair go?
Politics has changed - just look at Brexit and Trump's election. People want to be heard. Our real democratic traditions need to be resurrected and divergent views given a voice, even if they are contrary to the opinions of our so called community leaders.
My expulsion from the ALP has left me disappointed that an organisation I had been a member of for so many years, had such faith in, and had been a fierce supporter of, both ethically and financially, did not want to support me.
I am delighted that I was part of a movement for change and renewal at Ballarat City Council. It was a victory won even though I didn't get elected.
I will continue to be a loud and proud advocate for our Ballarat community.
Ron Egeberg, Soldiers Hill
TOTAL COST STILL UNKNOWN
At Wednesday's Ballarat City Council meeting I asked a very straightforward question. I didn't get an answer.
What is the full cost of the Eureka Stadium Redevelopment project?
The reason for my question was that until now the official cost has been $15m. A financial report to Wednesday's meeting seemed to be saying that the spend this financial year is around $14m. This is on top of at least $5m spent last financial year.
The response from the CEO was that she will take the question on notice, as she needs to brief the new council on the project. This is staggering, as officers should have known for months of the cost over-run. There since appears to have been agreement by the state government to cover these costs.
This raises questions about whether the previous council were briefed on the matter, why the new councillors appear not to have been briefed, even though they were presented with a key financial report at Wednesday's meeting. If the CEO has not briefed past or present councillors, she must explain to them why not.