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Local councils and the 2013 referendum


I have written a lot of articles on the issue of local councils and the constitution, but here is a quick overview that relates to the up and coming referendum.

The date of the referendum is up in the air as of this week, with the change from Gillard to Rudd, as the referendum must be held 2 months after passing the senate, the date must be after the 24th of August, the G20 summit is a week before the original date of the 14th of September, and Rudd will want to be there, so September the 14th or later would be an educated guess.

In the past 40 years local councils have grown into a powerful corporate structure writing laws, issuing taxes, fines, charges, licences, registrations, building development and a host of increasing red tape all being inflicted on both the community and Australian small business.

It is interesting that councils have obtained the power to do all this from state government legislation, not by way of the public debate nor constitutional recognition, in fact when the people of Australia were asked if we wished to see the “establishment and continuance” of local councils, we said NO?

Since around 1920 local councils have been funded by the federal government via the states, simply because it is state legislation that empowers and police’s local councils, not federal legislation nor the constitution itself.

“This funding arrangement still exists and has served us well for nearly a century; it ensures the separation of powers in our constitution are upheld.”

Without this separation of powers, the commonwealth would be able to bypass the state and impose their own ideals on local governance using the power of their considerable local funding promises to manipulate local policy.

The reason councils were never included in the constitution is that local councils were never considered a level of government, so in recent years the federal Labor governments have tried to side step the states to intervene in local issues, in 1974 (Whitlam) and 1988 (Hawke) called for referendums that asked the Australian public if we indeed wanted the establishment or continuance of local governments and the Australian people voted a clear No!

When the people by way of a referendum say NO, to words like “establishment and continuance” it should mean just that, yet these private corporations have continued to flourish and expand their powers over most local community issues, using bluff over substance.

The 1974 and 1988 referendums were funded by the commonwealth with both the Yes and No arguments receiving equal funding, to ensure transparency, even though private donations fell behind the Yes argument.

Interestingly the 2013 Labor government backed referendum has led to some interesting funding arrangements, first of all the LGA started pooling rate payer’s moneys over 12 months ago, well before we the people were aware of the impending referendum.

The federal government then showed their true cards, by a 95%/5% split in allocation of funding, 9.5 million to back the yes argument, and only 0.5 million on the no side of the debate, even the booklet going out to every Australian home has the no argument buried at the back.

Our Constitution was created through open and honest debate, so any changes to it must be made in the same manner, and from that stand point it has already failed!

For any federal government to disregard democracy at such a grass roots level is a disgrace, in the same way allowing rate payers money to be used to empower local councils without the approval of their constitutions just goes to prove where this referendum is going, and what the results will be if we dare vote yes.

The issue here is one of 3 strikes and you are out, so the YES argument is going to be sold any way it can, and we all know what that means, when questioned on the issue Anthony Albanese said “If the outcome is a NO vote it won’t matter” that being the case, why spend all the tax payer and rate payers money, on asking a question the Australian people have already clearly answered twice.

When the 74 and 88 referendums failed the state government exceeded their powers under the constitution, and wrote legislation that purported to empower local councils that were now a corporate structure, in an attempt to have them seen as a third tier of government.

An interesting side note here is that the states have no right to raise taxes, yet the legislation written in an attempt to empower local councils, allows them that very right, because rates are indeed a tax.

How can a state government pass on powers it doesn’t even enjoy in its own right?

The big sell on voting YES is nothing more than a load of rubbish, the LGA quote a recent high court case that restricts the commonwealth from directly funding local government, and of course that is the case, because local councils are not a tier of government, and secondly the commonwealth has no right to fund them, because that is what the protections found in our separation of powers is all about.

The commonwealth funding has always passed through the state governments hands, and so it should, when questioned on the looming referendum, Labor made it clear, if the referendum ends in another NO vote, nothing will change, so the LGA’s sell, that it will affect its funding is nothing more than fear mongering.

What many people forget, Labor for many years has used local councils as a training ground for their budding members, so empowerment of a local corporation into the realm of governance has the ability to impede in many ways the federal structure of our nation.

The most important issue supporting a NO vote is the ability to police local councils, because the only power to do so is the State governments, should the Commonwealth get control of the councils, then who polices them? We have state governments, state laws, state courts and state authorities, we have federal governments, federal courts and federal authorities’, if local councils corporations become a quazi form of local government, who would police their actions?

Dare we the Australian people risk another tier of government that has no independent checks and balances, let alone continue to allow the councils to act in the ways they presently do, from my point of view, we should take way some of their powers, or at the very least define what they are, because the constitution and the people clearly give them none.

Never forget that local council CEO's are paid more than our Prime Minister just in case you wonder where your council rates end up. story here

Writing laws that are used against the people, issuing taxes where they have no rights and the increased intrusion into our lives has already become unacceptable conduct, so the last thing we need do is give them more power.

As a Community advocate and a small business owner, I could and will list some of the issues we are already confronted with when dealing with a corporation who think they are tier of government.

Wanting to enter private properties with out warrants, tell us how to clean our homes and even our garden sheds, how long our grass will be, what colour we paint our walls, how we conduct business, where we place signs, how many pets, the issue of fines, rates, registrations, development planning, how we use our parks, our car parks and our land, applications to hold a family get together, demands to have liability insurance to hold a family BBQ in a public park, I could go on and on and on.

“The fact we must have checks and balances is one thing, intrusion into every aspect of our lives is another, but giving local corporations the power of government will only bring with it more red tape and massive increases in the cost of living”.

Try selling your excess eggs, bake a cake for a fundraiser, or sell tomato sauce from your front lawn, and you will find out exactly how far their supposed powers have taken them, voting yes will only make it worse. Imagine local wannabe politicians wielding even more power without any credible checks and balances.

Imagine the federal government being able to side step our state government and enter our homes through local corporations they control, without local authorities being able to protect us.

There are rafts or reasons to vote NO, since 1906 only 8 out of 44 referendums have passed, simply because changes to our constitution can have huge ramifications, because what may appear as simple word changes can bring with them a raft of interpretations, which I cover in detail on my website.

The people that debated the words in our constitution did so in the best interests of our nation, and even though successive governments have done all in their power to water down its protections, it still remains a very powerful tool and indeed.

“It is more than evident that those who now wish to change our constitution do not have those same best interests in mind, so I will vote no for that reason alone”.

Mark Aldridge

Independent candidate for Wakefield

82847482 / 0403379500

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