Is It Time?


Macedon Ranges Council: MRRA Asks Residents Is It Time For The State Government To Step In?

(22/8/06 - C)  We live in a darkening democracy but the government won't act unless you say 'Enough'!

As community concerns and demands for 'something to be done' about Macedon Ranges Shire Council build, MRRA this week issued a press release calling on Macedon Ranges' residents to speak up, to say if they think the time has come to get outside help.  That is, to call on the State government to intervene and take action to pull Council into line and put an end to the unacceptable behaviours that are angering the community.  Those actions could include suspending, investigating or sacking the Council, and calling a new election.


MRRA Says:

From community feedback MRRA has had to date, it seems unlikely 'doing nothing' will be an option available to the State government.  MRRA is coming under increasing pressure to act, and to call public meetings; some residents are already saying they will march in the streets.  This is becoming a serious situation; it must be resolved in the best interests of the broader community, of open and transparent government, and of democracy.


What's happening in Macedon Ranges isn't new.  The behaviours of ‘behind closed doors’ decisions, a Council trying to write its own rules; damaging development approvals, and not genuinely consulting or listening to the community are characteristics of a culture that has infected our Councils over time.  That doesn't mean every Councillor or officer has had the disease, or that in recent years the culture didn't recede.  However, with this latest Council, that culture has surfaced as a re-energized, destructive force, that some see as a festering sore upon our democracy.


Minister for Local Government, Ms. Candy Broad, recently said in a Ministerial Statement delivered to the Legislative Council:


"We [the Bracks government] said we would make local government stronger, more democratic and more transparent.... I am proud to say we have delivered."  and 


"We have enabled local government to be more accountable and responsive to local communities."  and


"The Bracks government...amended the Local Government Act to establish clear accountability principles to better inform the local community and encourage community consultation.  We are working with the peak bodies to promote a culture of responsibility, accountability and sound governance..."


MRRA says, that's not how it is working in Macedon Ranges.


Although called upon to act in 2000 and 2002, the Bracks government has historically declined to intervene in planning and governance issues in Macedon Ranges, viewing intervention as "usurping a democratically elected government".  Most would agree that under 'good' or even 'normal' circumstances, to "usurp" would be wrong, and the government's position to be the correct one.  Yet, these aren't those circumstances.  How democratic is a Council that denies residents their democratic and legislated rights, and does not consistently act responsibly, with due diligence, with propriety, with transparency and accountability?   Where a code of conduct is seen by some as 'voluntary'?


If you think it is time for the State government to step in, tell your State politicians.  Click here for contact details. 


MRRA also needs your feedback, so send us your comments by email on:  or by post: PO Box 359, Woodend, 3442; or by phone 5427 1481, 0411 580 363.