On Monday night we saw a textbook example of the benefits of a modern democracy combined with an open progressive Council. There has been significant discussion in this newspaper; on radio; on social media and in pubs and lounge rooms throughout the city over the last few weeks on a number of issues. The DREAM Festival has generated discussion on the merits of funding the festival again next year; the LGBTIQA community has been calling for Council to move a motion supporting same-sex marriage; a Development Application for a sand quarry at Eumungerie has caused some angst amongst the local residents and many groups have been interested in the proposed path of the Regand Park shared pathway. Oh – I almost forgot – we are also in the midst of the most significant reform process in Local Government since 1993 with Fit for the Future submissions closing at the end of this month.
There have been a number of open and transparent discussions occurring in relation to these issues combined with a number of submission processes but a Council meeting is where the final decisions are made. On Monday night we had our Standing Committees which feed their decisions to Council next Monday so it usually gives a fairly clear indication of what will happen at Council next week.
What pleased me incredibly on Monday night was to see an absolutely packed gallery. People who were interested in a vast array of issues in Dubbo made the effort to visit our Chambers and watch a meeting in progress. This is democracy at the most basic level. Community members stepped forward to the microphone and put their views forward; Councillors debated the issue and then a vote was called. All of the residents in the gallery could clearly see which Councillors put their hands up in favour – or against – each item. There was no animosity on the night and everyone was polite while people put their views forward and respected the views of others. People in the gallery may not have agreed with each and every decision but there can be no doubt of the robust nature of such a process and the clear governance and transparency that was in operation.
All of these items will go through to Council next week for final determination giving residents and Councillors further time to consider the decisions made on Monday night. I hope to see a large crowd again on Monday night – and at every Council meeting.
Thank you Dubbo for being interested and engaged!
Councillor Mathew Dickerson
Mayor of the City of Dubbo