White-faced Heron

This was the Council Meeting. Absent: Clr Phillips.  The following is how I understood the meeting & all mistakes are mine.  Note: MC = Marrickville Council.  The Councillors & Wards are as follows – LABOR:  Iskandar/Central, Wright/North, Tsardoulias/West, O’Sullivan/South. GREENS:  Phillips/Central, Peters/North, Byrnes/North, Kontellis/West, Olive/South.  INDEPENDENT:  Macri/Central, Thanos/West, Hanna/South.

Exposure Draft Boarding Houses Bill – A representative from the Inner West Tenancy Service at Marrickville Legal Centre said they give free advice for tenants & people who fall outside of the Act:  boarders & lodgers. Many Boarding Houses (BH) are unlicensed & unregulated. Estimate of 300 BHs in Marrickville LGA is a significant number of people.  The NSW Government is considering a legislative package regarding unlicensed BHs. There are a range of issues about compliance.  We try to get a better deal for people who live in quite a marginalized area. We want to endorse the content of this report. We endorse the proposal to increase the regulations. We don’t want this to be a cost-shifting exercise to Council.

Clr Kontellis: 300 BHs, we haven’t done more research on this for a number of years. It’s difficult because people don’t disclose. It’s an important submission & by supporting this we have to be prepared to draw a line in the sand. A few weeks ago there was a private DA asking for 8 rooms when using 12 & was unlicensed with this & another BH.  I, & Clr Phillips voted against though you all voted to allow him to operate. It should not be all on the side of the BH operators.

Clr O’Sullivan: Excellent report.  It will be interesting to see the government’s commitment to back up with real money to put it into practice. These people are subjected to the good intent & kindness of the owners & very vulnerable. One of the issues we have will enable us to make judgments & enable expert opinion on their status, which needs special attention. We should look at providing this to our local state MPs.  Staff: Department of Ageing & Home Care is from where resources should be made.  Clr Iskandar: I remember starting on this 3-years ago when I was Mayor. It is a very good achievement & I am proud of it.

Clr Macri: Re Clr Kontellis’s comments – the BH operator operated that BH for 30-years. He stated those rooms were there & MC knew this.  The choice of evicting someone from a room where he has been living for 4-5 years is not the way to go. The rooms were 6.5 sq metres. I did inspect the rooms & found people in good spirits & in good camaraderie. I could live there if I was in need.  There were no issues from police, no submissions from neighbours.  It’s important that we have people like that who do care.  Vote – passed unanimously.

Sponsorship request from the Sydney Festival & Branch Nebula – To hold ‘Concrete & Bone Sessions’ at Jack Shanahan Reserve Skate Park Dulwich Hill as part of 2013 Sydney Festival, waive hire fees & provide in-kind support. Cost to MC = $13,737. Speaker: The artists are concerned about leaving a light footprint in the park & working with the users in the park. We have appointed a community liaison person. We have a strong reputation of delivery of safe, environmentally responsible fun events.

Clr Tsardoulias: Many artists set up shop at Dulwich Hill. This will be a springboard for young artists. I welcome the proposal. Clr Olive: Exciting for Marrickville to be included in the Sydney Festival at Jack Shanahan Park. It will fit nicely.  I’ve been contacted by artists asking MC to stop cleaning the skateboard park as it makes the surface quite abrasive so perhaps MC could leave the art there. Clr Kontellis: It’s exciting & another great example of how MC works with community groups. Vote – passed unanimously.

Mayoral Minute – Political posters – Mayor Hanna: The Greens put in a motion to stop any shop putting a sign on their shop. If you like the environment you will vote for it. Like Allan Jones, I want to know.

Clr Wright:  Unless there are posters on poles, no-one will know to vote.  Clr Olive: I won’t vote for it. It lasts 3-weeks. We took ours down in 2 weeks. It’s a democratic process. It will be far more environmentally advantageous if more Greens get voted in.  Clr Peters:  Greens recycle our coreflutes. Some are 15-years old.  Certain parties put up coreflutes for more than 4-weeks before the state election.  There is a limit to what political parties should do & they should be pulling them down 2 weeks after the election.

Clr Kontellis:  This is a celebration of democracy.  Posters on poles have to be available. People know who is putting up their hand to represent them. Clr Thanos:  I support the Mayoral Motion.  I really don’t like seeing the posters on electricity poles for a couple of months.  MC should fine them. Last election with Barry Cotter the Labor Party used old ones & people didn’t recognize him.  They should be fined if they don’t take them down.

Clr Macri: I’ve been approached by people about coreflutes. Why put them up in the middle of the night?  Then the Greens come to rip them down & it sounds like Ibis.  It’s not a good thing.  Mail in post boxes are enough. It’s ridiculous democracy & insulting that people will vote because of a poster on a pole.  Mayor Hanna:  If you believe in democracy, let a shopkeeper put a sign on top of his shop.  People complain to me. Who will pay for the damage to the pole?  They are using big screws, which are damaging the pole. This is public property.  Vote – For: Mayor Hanna, Clrs Olive, Macri & Thanos.  Against: Clrs Byrne, Kontellis, Peters, O’Sullivan, Wright, Iskandar & Tsardoulias.  Lost.

Mayoral Minute – Pensioner rebates on rates – Mayor Hanna: The pension hasn’t increased since Nick Greiner. Ask the state government to put $500 towards the rates.  Clr Thanos:  I support.  We should amalgamate with Sydney Council who have waived rates for pensioners, especially as the GM is telling us the government is asking us to look at voluntary amalgamation. 20% of our population are pensioners.

Clr Olive: I support this.  Pensioners do need help, but you Mayor preceded over a 3.6% increase & voted to go to the community for a 6.72% special rate variation & a near 10% rate increase over domestic waste.  Clr Kontellis: I’m supporting this.  We are entering a world where a significant number of people are asset rich, income poor. Older Greek citizens do complain when they tell me of their 3 homes. Clr Macri: I support.  It was poor form of the state government to take this away. If you’ve got 3 houses you are not on the pension.  Mayor Hanna: Anyone can if you have less than $120,000 in the bank. We had a Green Mayor in front of me who increased the rates. I’m proud of this Council because we increase the rates the minimum.  Carried unanimously.

Greenway Reports & Updates – Recommendation that Council notes the significant progress made towards project outcomes, the conclusion of the grant for the Greenway Sustainability Project in September 2012, approves & adopts the Greenway Active Transport Strategy, adopts the final draft Greenway Biodiversity Strategy & endorse placing this on public exhibition & receives the minutes of the Greenway Steering Committee Jun 2012.  Carried unanimously. No debate.

50:50 Vision Councils for Gender Equity – “We will work towards increasing the representation of women  in local government, both as elected members & senior managers & professional.  We will undertake ongoing reviews of policies & practices to remove barriers to women’s participation & to engender safe, supportive working & in decision-making environments that encourage & value a wide range of views. The nominated 50:50 Vision champion be the GM.”  Clr Byrne: I am pleased we have done work on gender equity.

Clr O’Sullivan:  This is a good product on gender equity, including having women delegates.  One of the ways the contribution of Councillors can be recorded is through the Meeting Minutes.   It will be helpful if the new Council’s Code of Conduct include a note for Chairs – to allow a range of people to Chair the meetings.  Males have been Chairs for all meetings for the past 3-years. Very few times women have been recorded seconding motions.  This is recorded in the minutes & creates an impression that women who comprise half this Council are not noticed. (This practice is very noticeable from the Gallery – J).

Clr Thanos: When you are chairing a meeting you look towards those you have relationships with. Clr Hanna usually has Clr Macri second. When we look at gender equity it’s window dressing.  Gender inequity exists within the organization, not necessarily within the Meeting.  Clr Wright: Small things count.  What Clr O’Sullivan is saying is that, when appropriate & only asking for a greater level of awareness, that all participants at Meetings could be recorded as participating in the Meeting. Small things do make a difference.

Clr Iskandar: It’s a very philosophical issue & religious issue.  Man, he is, he is, & women, she is second.  I’d like everyone to take this seriously. Now the position of women is getting better. There are some religious sects, including Christians studying God’s description & saying she is a woman.  We have to work for equity & equality for women.  MC have worked very hard on this & we are proud of our achievements.  Labor is proud of their 50:50. Greens are the same.

Mayor Hanna: I agree & Clr Thanos, I look to the closest one for my seconder. I’m sorry Clr O’Sullivan.  My belief is there is no difference between men & women.  We had 2 previous ladies as GM who were very successful.  We had a first Mayor lady from the Greens. This Council gives credit for this.  They take extra leave when pregnant & we all voted for this.  If you were Chair, you would look to the closest one.

Clr Kontellis: This is Council’s equity program, not equality.  There is a difference.  In order for women to have equity we need to look at equity.  MC’s 50:50 vision is about equity.  We want to create more opportunity for women to get involved in the local government across the board.  Clr Tsardoulias. I support the motion.  (He listed all the women who have reached leadership places in Australia, such as Julia Gillard & Kristina Keneally).  Clr Byrne: I think symbolism is very important. I think this is fantastic progress though I do have concerns whether we could be at a high water mark.  It’s unlikely that there will be 6 out of 12 women voted in the next election & I’m quite sad about that.  The 50:50 vision is so important.  Vote – unanimous.

Here ends the Report for this week.

Sign outside the Greenway in Dulwich Hill