The local news is so uninteresting and full of waffle it is time to speculate on a possible future event. Imagine the Coffs Harbour City Councillor announcing his intention to sue "would-be" United States President Donald Trump. It seems Donald Trump may have illegally "pinched" the idea oferecting a fence (wall) from the local councillor. In annou-ncing his team for the forthcoming council election the councillor pointed to his past experience and his two terms as mayor. His 25 years of experience has, it seems given him a unique perspective on community needs. The solution was so simple. To avoid having to deal with the residents, Councillor Rhodes built a fence between himself and the masses who make up the electorate. Just to make sure that it does the intended job the Councillor frequently absented himself from the electorate. Such a sound proof idea means we are out of sight. Out of sight equates to out of mind. This in turn means community wishes can no longer infiltrate the hallowed recesses of the council chamber. Councillor Rhoades is free to assume full responsibility for everything. He has after all a vastwealth of experience he can draw on. Donald Trump is of course, trying to stop the nasty Mexican-s from infiltrating the United States. Remember if we can-not see them then they do not exist Councillor Rhodes' legal team are exploring court action for plagiarism Donald Trump "stole the idea of shutting the people out. Good Luck Councillor, remember the last time the people decided not to elect you as Mayor. Much of the inactivity over the past term and the resultant "dysfunctional and inconsistent council is clearly your doing. It seems you were unable to accept the people's decision. Little has cha-nged and to rely on the past really shows you are past your use by date. The wall is still there.
Asiya Rodrigo Photo: Jane Earle Photography
Last week, a story broke out about a Syrian refugee living in Germany who discovered 150,000 Euros hidden in a wardrobe given to him by a charity.
For a refugee like Muhannad, there is no burning desire greater than bringing family members left behind to safety. But instead of using the money to send for his two younger brothers, Muhannad heroically handed over the entire sum to the authorities.
The reason he gave for doing so was because his religion, Islam, forbids him from acquiring someone else’s wealth unlawfully.
This resonated with me deeply. When a conscious Muslim (or indeed a believer in many other faiths) thinks about “lawful and unlawful conduct”, we don’t just think in terms of civil and criminal law codes. We think about our ethics and our spiritual obligations. Our minds do not always separate the mundane from the spiritual, and our focus is self-regulation rather than state regulation. Herein lies the conceptual challenge when using problematic terms such as “sharia law”.
As an Australian Muslim woman, I believe being an Aussie allows me to apply the fundamentals of Shari’ah far more than many countries under Muslim rule. That may strike one as an odd thing to say. After all, Shari’ah is widely associated with oppressing women, amputating hands and stoning people. Yet those practices make Muslims cringe as well, and have very little to do with how most of us apply Shari’ah in our daily lives.
In Australia, I am free to practice my faith, save lives through blood and organ donations, own my own property, protect my lineage, exercise my intellect and commit to a life free of corruption or tribal feuds. These are the fundamental objectives (“maqasid”) of the Shari’ah, not totalitarian control or an obsession with medieval penalties.
For me, Shari’ah is not a set of specific laws but an overarching framework of divine principles through which I base certain decisions about my life. It is Shari’ah that informs my choice to comply with the laws of my country, even if I may be vocal about certain policies that are unfair. It is Shari’ah that informs my choice to take a few minutes out of my hectic schedule five times a day to become more mindful and reconnect with my spiritual core. It is Shari’ah that motivated me to establish a business where a sack of rice that is labelled “20 kilograms” really does weigh 20 kilograms and none of my customers are shortchanged. It is Shari’ah that compels my conscience to never enslave someone through putting them into a debt they cannot repay, and to do my best to free others from such debts. It is Shari’ah that influences my understanding that charity actually increases an individual’s abundance and is never a form of loss.
It is Shari’ah that encourages me to cleanse my body and the spiritual diseases of my heart through fasting. It is Shari’ah that urges me to not just forgive those who hurt me but to repay injury with compassion. It is the Shari’ah I read in the Qur’an that demands me to stand against oppression and injustice, even if it is committed by Muslims. It is the Shari’ah I read in the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad that inspires me to strive for the rights of all vulnerable people throughout the world, including women and minorities affected by Muslim oppressors.
It is Shari’ah that makes me believe in the right of all faith groups to be free to practice whatever they believe in. According to Muslim scholars, the word “Shari’ah” simply means “Path” and each faith is entitled to practice their own. Therefore, Islamic Shari’ah must not be imposed on a non-Muslim.
Throughout the bulk of Muslim history, political administration (“siyasa”) has been separated from the work of religious scholars and the judiciary. Religious scholars, male and female, deduce what is called “fiqh” – a human understanding of how divine principles and prophetic examples apply to our lives.
There are divergent formulations of fiqh by different scholars, and as Muslims we respect these differences. Fiqh is not about policing morality, it is only a field of religious opinions for Muslims to live by, and true scholars know they are fallible; they cannot absolutely speak for God. While scholars may provide their verdicts to political leaders, the state has the discretion to enact and enforce laws as administrators deem appropriate. That many modern Muslim political movements advocate for centralised legal systems and theocracy is actually contrary to most of our heritage.
To watch my nation sink deeper into sensationalist scaremongering, using cherry-picked quotes found online to tar my beliefs, is draining. As Muslim women, we are already tired of constantly clarifying that we can in fact think for ourselves, and that Muslims have had a positive presence in Australia since the 19th century.
For ordinary Muslims like myself and Muhannad, turning the Australian legal system into one like Saudi Arabia’s could not be further from the agenda. Rather, Islam guides to understand that the higher self does not require dominion over others, and that the state of the world is a reflection of the state of our hearts. In that sense, your Muslim neighbours and colleagues share the same challenge.
Asiya Rodrigo is Project Coordinator for the Australian Muslim Women’s Association.
The members of the Turnbull cabinet seemed to think they were making a decision about Kevin Rudd.
They were mistaken. They were making a decision about themselves. And about our country. Their choice tells us a good deal about the newly elected government. It does not augur well.
Hear why the PM won’t support Kevin Rudd’s bid to be the UN Secretary General. Courtesy ABC News 24.
There were two frames through which the government could have chosen to see the matter. One was national, the other political. The national frame dictates Australia should nominate an Australian for a global competition and wish him luck.
How many candidates did Australia have seeking nomination? One. As the former Liberal leader Brendan Nelson put it: “I could spend quite a lot of time having a discussion with you about Mr Rudd’s failings, but I think this is an occasion where we need to be at our best as Australians.”
Australia helped to found the UN. Labor’s H.V. “Doc” Evatt mobilised smaller powers to join as an attempt to prevent it becoming an exclusive tool of the great powers. He was the president of the General Assembly in 1948-49.
But an Australian has never held the secretary-general’s post. A dozen other nations have nominated candidates.
On the other hand, the political frame means that personal opinions and partisan games can be allowed into play.
Turnbull chose to apply the political frame. Personal opinions and partisan games dominated.
How could it not be a decision about Rudd? The Prime Minister himself said that it was. “This is a judgment about Mr Rudd’s suitability for that particular role,” Turnbull said on Friday, the only explanation he offered for his decision to refuse to nominate Rudd to enter the contest for the post of UN Secretary General.
Perhaps it wasn’t clearly explained to Turnbull. It’s not a job offer; it’s a nomination to an international competition. It’s not Turnbull’s place to decide the suitability of the next secretary-general.
He’s not even on the interview panel. There are 15 nations that will choose the next secretary-general. They are the members of the UN Security Council. The five permanent members, each with veto power, have the biggest say.
Australia has one point of potential input, and only one. Does it want to nominate a candidate? Australia has now decided that it will not.
Does Turnbull insist on personally vetting the members of Australia’s Olympics team? Of course not. He waves them farewell and wishes them luck.
The athletes have to qualify, of course. So did Rudd. In his case, the Department of Foreign Affairs advised the government that he was a credible candidate. Julie Bishop did her job as minister in carrying that advice to the Cabinet and making the case to nominate him.
After qualifying, the athletes go off to compete. In Rudd’s case, he would have joined the field of a dozen candidates for a contest to be decided by the Security Council in October.
But the Turnbull government has decided, without assessing the dozen others, to prejudge the contest and prejudge the Security Council.
There is a persistent misconception that, if not Rudd, Australia can support New Zealand’s candidate, Helen Clark. Of course, any country can say what it likes, but this is really a nonsense and Tony Abbott was its originator.
When he was prime minister, Abbott said he would support Clark merely as a mechanism to spite Rudd. It’s a measure of sheer provincial political bile that Abbott, a proud supporter of the ANZUS alliance, would rather support Clark. As prime minister, Clark continued the NZ boycott of ANZUS. The current leader, John Key, has relaxed it and is returning his country to the alliance.
In any case, there is no provision in the UN processes for any such thing. The Security Council’s five permanent members – the US, China, Britain, France and Russia – will choose from among the candidates according to their own interests.
The job certainly won’t default to Clark. Based on last week’s informal straw poll of council members, she’s ranked sixth. Portugal’s former prime minister, Antonio Guterres, is the clear leader.
Following Abbott’s lead, in recent weeks the right faction of the Liberal Party ran a bitter campaign of public vitriol against Rudd. It became deranged. The former elder statesman of the conservative faction, Eric Abetz, now a backbench senator, put out a press release headed “Don’t inflict Rudd on UN”.
It’s touching, incidentally, that the traditionally UN-sceptic conservatives have suddenly discovered such concern over its choice of bureaucrats.
Abetz’s opening line: “According to his former colleagues, Mr Rudd is a narcissist, a micro-manager, an impulsive control freak and a psychopath – just to name a few.”
His conclusion: “If Mr Rudd lacked the capacity and temperament to be Labor leader, by his own colleagues’ assessment, he lacks the qualities to head the UN.”
So Abetz’s lodestar is suddenly Labor’s judgment? This is a new position for him. On this logic, we should assess all politicians according to the insults of their internal enemies. Even you, Eric. This is ridiculous stuff.
In the approach to Thursday’s cabinet debate, the Liberal right faction ramped up the anti-Rudd theatrics, a political haka performance. Peter Dutton, Scott Morrison, huffed and puffed and stamped and posed intimidatingly. They carried the fight into the cabinet room, determined to overturn the recommendation of Julie Bishop, a moderate, and to spite Rudd and the Labor Party.
It was rampant personal and partisan politics. Turnbull presided as a neutral chairman, showing no inclination, as he listened to the arguments for and against. In the face of a divided cabinet, he asked his colleagues for a “hunting licence” – permission to take the decision himself – and was given one.
He should have applied the national frame to the decision. He is Prime Minister for all Australians, including the 4,311,365 who gave primary votes to Rudd’s Labor in the 2013 election.
Rudd himself was capable of playing hard partisan politics, but he was also notably bipartisan in making appointments. He appointed the former Nationals leader Tim Fischer ambassador to the Vatican, Brendan Nelson ambassador to NATO and the EU and Peter Costello to the board of the Future Fund. Had he wanted it, there was a solid case available to Turnbull to make the national decision. Instead he chose the political. Why?
He fears for the unity of his government. He is acutely conscious that he was narrowly returned to power, that he is subject to a lot of biting internal criticism over the campaign, that a small knot of his party’s conservatives – Abetz, Cory Bernardi, George Christiansen, Kevin Andrews – will enjoy making trouble for him if they can.
And he knows that some difficult decisions lie ahead. His authority may be tested on matters including his proposed superannuation reforms, which have generated some heated anger among the party’s base. The same sex marriage plebiscite will also test his powers of internal political management.
Before the election, when Turnbull imagined his future self to be in a stronger position, he was committed to supporting Rudd in the national interest.
As Rudd wrote to Turnbull in a letter he released on Friday night: “You in fact sent me a message on your preferred Wickr system [encrypted message service] where you stated that you and the FM [foreign minister] were ‘as one’ in your support for my candidature.”
Newly anxious, Turnbull has preferred to appease his right faction, to yield their personal and partisan vitriol, than to support his deputy leader and foreign affairs minister. He allowed himself to be bullied rather than advised.
This is a decision taken in fear. It’s a decision about preserving the personal political position of the leader. It’s not a decision to enlarge the possibilities for Australia, to allow the country to see one of its own in an international post of some profile and prestige.
If Turnbull is so sensitive about his position in the first flush of a new term, it is a poor omen for the three years ahead.
If he weighs the national decision against the political and prefers the political, it’s a bad sign for the country.
The only winners from this decision are the exuberant partisans and bitter haters in the Liberal Party.
Turnbull is right that the UN secretary-generalship is not the most important matter before the government.
It’s not an especially powerful job, certainly not the “leader of the world” as some reporters have misunderstood it.
The secretary-general is the chief administrative officer of the UN and answers to the force-wielding Security Council; he does the council’s bidding. He can raise matters for the Council but cannot decide any.
He, or she, could be an effective mediator and problem-solver in a limited way on the rare occasions where the great powers are actually interested in solving problems.The fate of the world doesn’t depend on the choice. But the fate of Australia, in many ways, does depend on the Turnbull government and how the prime minister interprets his mandate. An anxious PM tip-toeing in fear of upsetting his most restive members is not a leader who will make difficult choices in the national interest.
We can only hope that this is an aberration, not a precedent, for a new term of government.
Peter Hartcher is political editor.
Kevin Rudd says he was told he had Malcolm Turnbull’s strong support for his bid for the top job at the United Nations before the Prime Minister suddenly reneged on that commitment, according to private letters from Mr Rudd to Mr Turnbull, obtained by Fairfax Media.
In an explosive new development in the aftermath of the Turnbull government’s official rejection of Mr Rudd’s request for endorsement to run for the post of secretary-general of the United Nations, Mr Rudd has released letters, which, while only showing one side, suggest that agreements had been reached to support the Rudd bid, but that this support was suddenly withdrawn on May 1, just days before the election was called.
“You will recall that last September, I contacted you asking for guidance on how I should address the matter of your previously stated support to me for my candidature when I met Foreign Minister Bishop at the UN General Assembly in September,” Mr Rudd wrote to Mr Turnbull in an email said to be dated May 1, 2016.
“You in fact sent me a message on your preferred Wickr system where you stated that you and the FM (foreign minister) were “as one” in your support for my candidature.
“You will also recall I came to see you in your Parliament House office on 11 November last year where we discussed the matter at length. Once again you restated your position of support for my candidature. You went further to ask for a list of governments whom you would need to lobby at a prime ministerial level in the future.
“We continued this discussion further on Wednesday 23 December in your Sydney office. Once again you stated your support for my candidature. You added that when the time came to lodge my nomination, you now wanted to take it to cabinet to avoid the perception of a “captain’s pick”. You also said to me that the cabinet process would not change the outcome.”
The correspondence, assuming it accurately reflects discussions between the former and current prime ministers, suggests Mr Rudd has been victim to a sudden policy and attitude change by Mr Turnbull.
It also suggests that claims by Turnbull aides that he had never backed the Rudd nomination, could be wrong.
A spokeswoman for the PM said Mr Rudd’s claim that he had received support in December of last year was wrong, and he was advised in April that the matter would need to go to cabinet.
Mr Rudd learned by telephone that he would not be nominated to run for the top UN job, despite requesting a face-to-face meeting with Mr Turnbull and flying to Sydney for that purpose.
“Mr Rudd flew to Sydney this morning, requesting a meeting with the Prime Minister, having sought such a meeting the previous evening,” said Mr Rudd in a Friday statement.
The decision to reject his request for Australian endorsement was a severe blow to the two-time Labor prime minister, who has been campaigning across the world for the past 18 months, on an understanding of official backing at some point.
It is also being seen as a defeat for Ms Bishop, who recommended nomination, and who believed he was eminently qualified to at least go forward into what would inevitably be a difficult, complex, and potentially arduous international process dominated by super-power politics.
Cabinet colleagues denied suggestions that Mr Turnbull’s decision, which had followed an acrimonious cabinet debate, was aimed at eroding Ms Bishop’s authority amid ongoing mutterings that a senior figure from the party’s conservative wing, most likely Peter Dutton, is positioning for her job as deputy Liberal leader.
In an abrupt midday press conference in Sydney, Mr Turnbull revealed that he had told the former prime minister that in his opinion, Mr Rudd was not well suited to enter the nomination race to replace outgoing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
“This is no disparagement of Mr Rudd. He is a former prime minister of Australia,” Mr Turnbull said in Sydney on Friday.
“But my judgment is that he is not well suited for this particular role.”
“I do not want to add to his disappointment, but the threshold point here is when the Australian government nominates a person for a job . . . is do we believe the person, the nominee, the would-be nominee is well suited for that position?”
Mr Turnbull maintained the snub had nothing to do with partisan politics but rather was “a judgment about Mr Rudd’s suitability for that particular role”.
In his statement, Mr Rudd expressed his disappointment for the loss of an historic opportunity: “It would have been the first time in the United Nations’ 70-year history that Australia offered a candidate for UN Secretary-General,” he wrote.
“A nomination by the government would not have granted Mr Rudd a position. It would simply have enabled him to stand alongside the 12 other candidates from across the world, and compete on his merits – that is now not to be”
In a sign of internal Liberal Party tensions finding expression though this issue, a senior government figure volunteered that the repudiation of Mr Rudd was not a reflection on Ms Bishop, but turned specifically on Mr Rudd’s shortcomings.
When asked about what those unsuitable characteristics of Mr Rudd were, Mr Turnbull declined to elaborate, saying he did not want to add to Mr Rudd’s disappointment.
Acting Labor leader Tanya Plibersek and foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong called the move a “petty decision”.
“This captain’s call confirms that Malcolm Turnbull occupies the office of Prime Minister in name only. Australia is diminished by his weakness,” the pair said.
Former Hawke government foreign minister Gareth Evans was scathing, declaring that the decision did Mr Turnbull no credit.
“Kevin Rudd’s international standing is very high. He is regarded as immensely competent and credible, and – though facing a number of obvious obstacles (including I think a likely Russian veto) – was manifestly seen as a serious candidate for the UNSG position,” he said.
“This decision is embarrassing for Australia. It will be seen by most governments around the world for what it is: petty, partisan and vindictive. Julie Bishop understood that, and she has been put in a very invidious position by her Leader’s failure to stand up for the perfectly reasonable position she took.
“It will leave a very bad taste in many mouths. The country is crying out for more bipartisanship on major policy issues, and this is no way to get it.”
Ministers opted to hand the decision to Mr Turnbull at Thursday’s cabinet meeting.
Ms Bishop had offered support for Mr Rudd’s nomination to succeed Ban Ki-moon, arguing it was appropriate as a former prime minister and would not amount to an endorsement from the Australian government.
Senior ministers including Scott Morrison, Greg Hunt and Peter Dutton remained opposed to supporting Mr Rudd, president of the New York-based Asia Society Policy Institute.
Right-wing backbencher Cory Bernardi welcomed the move in a statement posted to Twitter.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott had pledged to support former New Zealand Labour prime minister Helen Clark, who also has the backing of her country’s government.
The move has been seen as Mr Turnbull avoiding a fight with members of the Coalition partyroom who were steadfast in their opposition to Mr Rudd, despite the precedent of governments supporting former rivals for international roles.
Some member nations have expected a woman to become secretary-general for the first time, while eastern European nations have argued they are due to have a representative in the top job.
Of the 12 declared candidates, Antonio Guterres, former prime minister of Portugal, is considered a frontrunner after a strong showing in the first straw-poll vote.
Ms Clark has been backed in her nomination by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, who is from the conservative National Party.
The UN Security Council will consider nominated candidates from next month, before taking a resolution for the role to the General Assembly.
The five Security Council permanent member nations, including the United States, Britain, Russia, China and France can veto any nominee.
A secret ballot will take place, before the next secretary-general is due to take office on January 1.
Promising a return to stable, progressive council, The ‘Coffs Coast First’ group vows to create the environment for ‘a prosperous, attractive and growing city with excellent regional infrastructure and a focus on new jobs.’
Cr Rhoades, the Local Government NSW president, will be the ticket’s mayoral candidate having served as a local councillor since 1991 and mayor from 2004-2012.
“Elements of the current council have been dysfunctional and inconsistent,” Cr Rhoades said.
“We need councillors that can set direction, debate issues sensibly, and then act in the region’s long-term interests.”
“Our group’s particular agenda is in providing opportunities for both older and younger locals to stay in the region – and hopefully attracting plenty of new residents in the process.”
Also standing on the ticket are Thrifty Car and Truck Rental licensee George Cecato, Tom Jung Quarries and Total Gardens managing director Ray Smith and McGrath Estate Agents Coffs Harbour and Sawtell principal Martin Wells.
“The NSW Government has identified Coffs Harbour as one of the state’s major regional cities for this century,” Mr Cecato said.
“Now is the time to take control of that growth agenda, to ensure Coffs remains a fantastic place to visit, live, invest and raise a family and to do that we need a strong, united and progressive council.”
The ticket’s key issues are encouraging new businesses and enterprise to relocate to the Coffs Coast, re-energising the Coffs Harbour Economic Development Unit; improving local infrastructure, lobbying for the Coffs Harbour bypass, completing the Harbour Foreshores beautification, planning a staged development of a cultural and entertainment centre and ensuring sound financial management within the council.
Dear readers of this Blog we hope that you are enjoying CoffsOutlook which is kept up to to date daily with local news and comments about life in Coffs Harbour, change in directions and of late many comments about the town centre and the upheaval we are all forced to live with due to the inability of Coffs Harbour to plan for the future.
It was only a few short months ago that Councillor Rhodes spoke very forcefully at a Council meeting against Coffs Harbour City Council joining with other councils in a forced amalgamation engineered by the NSW State Government and that as the President of the Local Government Association (LGA) he would do everything in his power to stop such an amalgamation.
After all with 25 years council experience and employment at BBC Hardware and also Bunnings Hardware he feels he knows what makes Coffs Harbour tick.
And now with all this Council experience we are advised that Coffs Harbour Council has done an about face and is now leading a joint organisation with Clarence Valley, Bellingen Shire and Nambucca Shire.
Over time we have been keeping you up to date with happenings in our area and here we are now faced with a NEW council election in September. When in town I hear many comments from members of our community so here is an opportunity for you to put your comments on the blog to share with us all but please, no rude messages.
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Toormina High School has employed a fulltime teacher to expand its Aboriginal language program. The local Gumbaynggirr language has been taught to Year 7 students for the past two years and will be extended to Year 9 students in 2017.
Member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser, said the language program improved educational outcomes for its students and is building greater community engagement with the school.
“The school’s use of needs-based funding is helping to give Toormina students new ways to explore a language and gain a new sense of self-respect,” Mr Fraser said.
“Many of these students are from the Gumbaynggirr community and most did not speak their own cultural language. Through this newly forged connection to culture, it’s clear that student learning is improving and student’s self-esteem rises.”
The Gumbaynggirr language program is taught through one of five Aboriginal Language and Culture Nests that were established by the NSW Government’s Aboriginal initiative OCHRE to assist Aboriginal people and communities to reclaim, revitalise and maintain traditional languages.
Over the past two years:
- Aboriginal student attendance at Toormina has risen by 12 per cent;
- Enrolments have increased by 3 per cent as word has spread of the success of the programdespite the fact that the school is in a demographic area with a declining school aged population; and
- At least 14 per cent more parents are attending the first “meet the teacher” night after the program was introduced.
Mr Fraser said Toormina High School’s approach had led to students taking an active lead in their community outside the school, creating a deeper sense of connection between the school and the community, again improving the educational outcomes for the students.
In 2015 and 2016, Toormina High School received $1,079,885 and $1,140,998 respectively in needs-based funding made possible by NSW being the first state to sign the Gonski agreement.
This year, the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government is investing a record $113 million in additional funding to support NSW public school students who need it most.
Coffs Harbour City Council has lent its support to the NSW Government model for the way that councils in Joint Organisations (JO) will work together in the future.
Coffs Harbour together with Clarence Valley, Bellingen Shire and Nambucca Shire Councils -has been earmarked since 2013 to become a member of the regional North Coast Joint Organisation, a result of the state government’s review of local government.
Earlier this year the state government published its proposed JO model and requests feed back from councils.
“The proposed North Coast Joint Organisation will essentially continue and build on the valuable collaborative relationships that we’ve developed as a group of councils over the past years, but it will also give us a stronger regional voice on community priorities,” said Coffs Harbour Mayor, Councillor Denise Knight.
In the model JOs are intended to have three core functions – regional strategic planning, intergovernmental collaboration and regional leadership and advocacy. They may also undertake optional functions such as regional service delivery and sharing skills. In addition the NSW Government model propose that:
- Mayors of member councils will sit on the JO board for the term of office.
- General Managers of member councils will advise and contribute to the JO Board.
- The JO Board will appoint its own Chair.
- There will be equal voting rights between members and no casting vote for the chair.
- Additional councillors may be appointed to the JO Board provided representation remains equal among councils
- The NSW Government representative (Regional Coordinator of the Department of Premier and Cabinet) will be an associate (non voting) member.
- Other organisations such as county councils and cross border partners may be associate (non voting ) members.
- In terms of boundaries, the JOs will be established by proclamation and and demonstrate a strong community interest between member councils and will be based around a regional centre, where possible and big enough to form strong partnerships.
- The JOs will each receive $300,000 seed funding from the NSW Government and will employ and Executive Officer under a standard contract and other staff under the Local Government (State) Award. Dos will be able to apply for grants and generate income to help fund ongoing operations.
- A part of a JO individual council will still be able to undertake local strategic planning and regional collaboration in their own rights, as well as continuing to tender, enter into contracts, apply for grants, employ staff and undertake legislative functions on behalf of member councils.
Coffs Harbour City Council agreed to send a submission supporting the proposed model to the NSW Government
Selling public assets has created unregulated monopolies that hurt productivity and damage the economy, according to Australia’s consumer and competition tsar, who says he is on the verge of becoming a privatisation opponent.
In a blistering attack on decades of common government practice, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims said the sale of ports and electricity infrastructure and the opening of vocational education to private companies had caused him and the public to lose faith in privatisation and deregulation.
“I’ve been a very strong advocate of privatisation for probably 30 years; I believe it enhances economic efficiency,” Mr Sims told the Melbourne Economic Forum on Tuesday.
“I’m now almost at the point of opposing privatisation because it’s been done to boost proceeds, it’s been done to boost asset sales and I think it’s severely damaging our economy.”
Mr Sims said privatising ports, including Port Botany and Port Kembla in NSW, which were privatised together, and the Port of Melbourne, which came with conditions restricting competition from other ports, were examples where monopolies had been created without suitable regulation to control how much they could then charge users.
“Of course you get these lovely headlines in the Financial Review saying ‘Gosh, what a successful sale, look at the multiple they achieved’,” Mr Sims sai
Mr Sims, who recently launched legal action against Medibank Private alleging it concealed changes to health insurance policies to boost profits ahead of its privatisation, said billions of dollars had been wasted in the scandal-plagued vocational education sector since it was opened up to the private sector.
Deregulating the electricity market and selling poles and wires in Queensland and NSW, meanwhile, had seen power prices almost double there over five years, he said.
“When you meet people in the street and they say ‘I don’t want privatisation because it boosts prices’ and you dismiss them … recent examples suggest they’re right,” he told the room of influential economic and policy experts.
“The excessive spend on electric poles and wires has damaged our productivity. The higher energy price we’re getting from some poor gas and electricity policies are damaging some of our productive sectors.”
Mr Sims said he was growing “exasperated” as governments including the Commonwealth became more explicit in trying to maximise proceeds from asset sales. “I think a sharp uppercut is necessary and that’s why I’m saying: stop the privatisation,” he said.
Mr Sims also used the forum to continue a public stoush with opponents of a proposed “effects test”, saying they were relying on “bogus” arguments against the Harper review proposal to give the ACCCpowers to block action that had the purpose or effect of substantially lessening competition.
The Productivity Commission last week joined the Business Council of Australia, the federal Labor opposition and the supermarket giants in opposing the so-called “effects test”, which is a pet policy of National Party MPs including Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.