LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Mayor’s action supported

TOUGH DECISION: City of Ballarat councillor has thrown his support behind mayor Samantha McIntosh in her vote over flying the rainbow flag.

TOUGH DECISION: City of Ballarat councillor has thrown his support behind mayor Samantha McIntosh in her vote over flying the rainbow flag.

SINCE being elected as a councillor of the City of Ballarat almost a year ago, I have curtailed my once frequent letters to your paper in favour of working behind the scenes as best I can for the betterment of our great city.

However, as a result of some very public statements which have been made challenging the capacity of the mayor of Ballarat over her voting against the controversial motion regarding the flying of the rainbow flag on the ceremonial flagpole in Victoria square, I feel I must break my silence in support of her actions.

The simple fact is that a very proper mayor took the only option available to her in the circumstances which prevailed and voted to maintain the status quo as is the required protocol when a vote to break a deadlock such as confronted the council last Wednesday night arises.

Our mayor demonstrated a sound knowledge of the requirements of her position and is to be congratulated for her decisive action in a very difficult situation.

Historically, the City of Ballarat has voted twice previously, and, in fact again last Wednesday voted for a third time, to generally support same sex marriage and it is hard to imagine just what council could do more to support this broad based proposition. What council did not do however, on the casting vote of the mayor, was to agree to fly the rainbow flag for a second time - remembering the flag had been flown for almost two weeks, but had been taken down because the flagpole had been required to celebrate another event.

It should be noted the City of Bendigo recently agreed to fly the rainbow flag in the cause - for just one day. On the substantive matter before it, which had nothing to do with the question of support for same sex marriage, but which had everything to do with the further flying of the flag.

Following a proper and solid debate, council was deadlocked four votes all on the matter which required the casting vote of the mayor to resolve. Rather than failing to show leadership, Cr McIntosh acted strictly in accordance with propriety and the protocols laid down for such situation by voting in the negative, and our community was well-served by her appropriate actions. For anyone to challenge the capacity of our mayor to lead our council on the basis of her actions in this matter demonstrates a clear lack of understanding of the rules of meeting procedure.

- Grant Tillett, North Ward councillor

Time not really saved

SO, we have saturation coverage of the (not new) idea of a sub-hour train trip to Melbourne. Meanwhile, with the crazy proposal of the state government to reduce the amount of car parking at the Ballarat station, travellers will inevitably need to walk an additional 10-15 minutes from where they can park to get to the station - or use the less than adequate bus system - negating most of the improved travel time on the train.

Further, the hour's trip does not constitute the total travel time to Melbourne. It must be asked: is the idea of people needing to travel for a total of at least two hours/day to get to work a good idea, or has the need to put up with this uncivilised concept come about because Melbourne has gotten too big and too expensive a place to live?

I'm not sure of the latest figures, but until recently, central Melbourne's share of the working population had been static for decades, with the suburbs taking the lion's share in employment growth; not much use if you get to Southern Cross and find you have another hour or so to travel. In any case, it's not just speed of the trip that is significant; it's also very much frequency of service - if you can forget about the timetable, that issue has been solved. And greater frequency means greater capacity - a real issue now. As for the state government's investment in the Melbourne to Ballarat line - good, other than the need for proper investment at the Ballarat station.

- Hedley Thomson, Canadian