Back in the day: Ballarat, when it was well-served by the country’s parochial system of local government. Photo: SUPPLIED

From the desk of Roland Rocchiccioli – 22 November

November 22, 2020 BY

Seven of the nine former councilors have been returned to office. This result should not be construed as blanket consensus approval; rather it should be seen as a circumstantial case of COVID-19, and better the devil you know…

THE last 12-month track record for the City of Ballarat council, and its councilors, has not been illustrious. While there has been much to commend, the scandals have obliterated the achievements.

Ballarat is the third-largest city in Victoria and inland Australia. It covers an area of 306 square kilometres and has an operating budget of millions. That it is overseen by a committee of under-paid, part-time employees is a statutory calamity. The structure should be dismantled.

Times have changed and the current system of local government is outmoded; regrettably, there will be no change in the foreseeable future. Plainly, if the council is to be administratively effective there needs be a fundamental change of ethos within the chamber. Council is not a pseudo, mini-parliament.

In the serious pursuit of town hall harmony and achievement, political power-bases must be eradicated and childish point-scoring disparaged. Bipartisanship is the road to realistic success. Ballarat is not a fiefdom to be manipulated by those with a personal political agenda and an implacability to impose their jaundiced will. This is a city of great beauty and increasing significance, and whose prominence and population growth is exponential.

While we might have been better served with the retirement of several incumbent councillors, we can only hope they will reflect and view their re-election as an opportunity to make amends for their outrageous and divisive transgressions; a mea culpa to the people of the city whom they have disenchanted. By any reasonable standard of reckoning, the unfortunate conduct which has enveloped the City managers, officers, and councilors, is deplorable, and is not to be tolerated, under any circumstances.

It is imperative the voice of the people be heard, and considered. No one of us has a monopoly on good ideas. It is hubristic for nine councilors to imagine that they, alone, are gifted with the task of deciding Ballarat’s future. The disgraceful shenanigans happening in, and around, the town hall, deserves raucous public opprobrium. Hardly a week passes that one is not left shaking one’s head incredulously at the antics, and the revelations. Incumbency is not a sinecure. It should represent good governance.

Equally, the ultimate execution of their winning pledges is the city’s collective responsibility.

Conversely, inflammatory media carping is too silly for words!

Irritatingly, daily newspapers carry endless pictures of our elected representatives, smiling ridiculously, reminiscent of Cheshire cats, as they embrace yet another photo opportunity. Despite its terribleness, for many, a 15-minute grab-at-fame is too alluring. Social media has transformed public perceptions, particularly regarding notoriety.

Fame is a fickle parasite; a dangerously addictive narcotic which lives in any carcass, regardless. The annals of history are strewn with those scarred souls who have fallen victim to its seductive charms. The glaring spotlight of recognition drastically alters those whom it snares in its evanescent orbit. It turns people’s heads. It breeds rampant self-aggrandisement. Suddenly, and mostly devastatingly, it departs without fear or favour leaving devastation, embitteredness, and overwhelming confusion in its wake.

The campaigning, such as it was, is over. The elected candidates, having made public their considered declarations and promises, must now start the work, and without excuse. This team of councilors should understand, in unambiguous language, they are on-notice, formally. Patience have been tested, sorely. Voters are no longer willing to shrug despairingly and accept ineptitude, appalling behaviour, and shoddy business practices, however honest and well intentioned. There are strict protocols to be observed.  It is not unreasonable to expect they will be followed, to the letter.

Optimistically, the consequences of several scathing reports, coupled with incidents of disturbing workplace mismanagement, will precipitate a much-needed attitudinal revolution in the City of Ballarat and Shire of Golden Plains’ Councillors.

After all, that is why we voted!

Roland can be heard on RADIO 3BA, every Monday morning, 10.45 and contacted via [email protected].